Town still fighting to keep jail

The Town of Fort Frances, with the help of Emo and area First Nations, is still fighting to keep the jail here open.
Mayor Glenn Witherspoon and Emo Reeve Russ Fortier are collaborating to put together a proposal for a new jail in Fort Frances after meeting with the minister of correctional services in Thunder Bay in May.
“He said if we put together a good business plan, we’d be able to not really keep what we have, because it’s beyond repair, but build a new facility,” Reeve Fortier said Tuesday.
“The encouragement from the meeting was very rewarding and we’ve put a request for proposal to FedNor for a consultant,” noted Mayor Witherspoon.
“Also helping us out are other area leaders, and we’re consulting the law society and we’re consulting with employees of the jail,” he added.
The minister indicated the group has until September to put together and submit a business plan in a bid for a new jail here.
The province has announced the Fort Frances Jail is slated for closure in 2004, with local prisoners to be sent to the new “mega-jail” in Thunder Bay.
Meanwhile, Mayor Witherspoon and Reeve Fortier, along with First Nations communities, also are moving to lobby the provincial government to set up a proposed young offenders facility in Rainy River District.
The group may lobby to put it on one of the First Nations reserves such as Couchiching.
“When we met with the minister, he said they were looking at building one somewhere in Northwestern Ontario,” said Reeve Fortier. “We’re actually sitting down jointly with First Nations working on that project.
“They are involved because the biggest clientele is aboriginal people,” he added. “We’re looking at 60 percent. It’s to give the people an opportunity to maintain their families, their jobs, and their life.”