Too many issues not being debated

What is it that Rainy River District wants from this year’s municipal elections?
I ask this question because many of the issues that will be faced by councils in the next four years still are not on the horizon or on anyone’s agenda.
Four years ago, was anyone clearly predicting a crisis in the forestry industry? Six years ago, could anyone have predicted 9/11 and the ramifications of that deadly act.
And could anyone ever have believed that an act of terrorism in New York City and Washington, D.C. would come to haunt tourism in Northwestern Ontario or the easy movement of residents between two connected communities that straddle an international boundary?
Did anyone anticipate the consequences of that lone head of cattle In Alberta that was found to have BSE back in May, 2003 and how it would affect cattle-raising not only in Rainy River District, but in the rest of Canada?
Five years ago, until the census came out, we were still buoyant about our population. It was remaining strong. It lacked growth, but as a district we were becoming older.
Tourism, agriculture, forestry, and aging/declining population all have become critical issues to Rainy River District. Yet is anyone talking about those issues?
In January, 2005 at the community summit held in Fort Frances, the issue of declining population and lack of immigration to Rainy River District was first addressed as an issue.
In passing 300 million residents, the United states expects to grow to 400 million in population by 2025—and 20 percent of those new residents will come from foreign countries.
Can we expect 20 percent of the new residents to Rainy River District to come from foreign countries? Can we attract those new residents to Rainy River District?
Every candidate in federal, provincial, and municipal politics for the last 25 years has bemoaned the loss of our youth to careers outside of Fort Frances. In my memory, no candidate has ever broached the subject of attracting immigrants to the district.
The Rainy River Future Development Corp. recently completed an immigration attraction study. Local immigrants were interviewed, as were officials in Manitoba who successfully have attracted immigrants to their communities.
A plan of action was created and requires a citizen-based, district-wide committee to be put in place to attract those potential new citizens from beyond North America.
Attracting immigrants will require the support of all district residents. Most will come with skills or investment funds to use in the district. They will want to come where family and friends already exist, or will come if a group from their own country chooses to reside in Rainy River District.
More important will be the need for communities to be ready to welcome them into their fold. We also must realize that to attract these new citizens, we also will have to create the same economy and opportunities that will attract our youth back to the district.
We will have to find ways to bolster forestry, agriculture, and tourism, and add knowledge/technology-based industry to our economy.

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