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Council approves strategic plan

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Fort Frances Town Council approved it’s strategic plan at Monday evening’s meeting, setting out a blueprint for the next three years.

“I look forward to tackling this,” said Town CAO, Mark McCaig about the approved strategic plan. “It gives the administration a clear sense of what our priorities are and what we’re going to be working on and when we’re going to be working on it,” he said.

Entitled “Realities ... Challenges ... Opportunities” the document breaks down these goals into four main categories: Economic Development, Essential Services, Quality of Life, and Corporate Initiatives.

The plan is “kind of front-end loaded,” noted McCaig, with many of the 45 listed goals set out to be achieved by both the end of 2011 and 2012.

For example, by the end of September the strategic plan has the town’s website redesign finished. October will see the condo initiative reviewed, and in December, the disposition of the former public library should be completed.

Other highlights of the strategic plan include:

•finalizing the official plan review and corresponding zoning bylaw to incorporate the amendments to legislation (i.e. Planning Act and Bill 51), recognize provincial interests and ensure compliance with provincial policy statements by the end of this year;

•reviewing the town’s partnership incentive programs that allow it to work with the private sector to facilitate economic growth by April of 2012;

•striking a committee with Abibow and other stakeholders to address challenges, opportunities and issues related to the region’s primary industry by Jan. 2012;

•striking a committee with neighbouring First Nation communities to explore and develop areas of mutual economic opportunity;

•working with the RRFDC to develop a strategy that will review existing initiatives and prepare the community to maximize the potential that the Town of Fort Frances receives as a result of mining activity by Dec. 2011;

•coordinating a cooperative retail effort to promote local goods and services by Feb. 2012;

•developing a strategy to minimize the number of vacant commercial and institutional establishments by facilitating tenancy (e.g. former Pizza Hut) or reclamation of potential brownfield sites (e.g. Rainy Lake Hotel), before Oct. 2013;

•examining potential sub division development of town-owned properties, by Nov. 2011;

•examining the future use of the Huffman School property with a focus on potential opportunities for the building and associated property by April 2012;

•moving towards all buildings in the community having water meters installed, in conjunction with the smart meter installation project, by Feb. 2013;

•bringing forward the recommendations of Phase II of the Active Transportation Plan to council and implement any direction by Oct. 2013;

•supporting the initiative undertaken by the Assisted Living Action Group (ALAG) through consultation and the provision of assistance that is within the town’s capabilities and in conjunction with other local authorities by December 2011;

•integrating various seniors groups into the Sister Kennedy Board of Management, and expanding the role of the Sister Kennedy Board by including members of local seniors groups to help provide mayor and council with advice on local senior’s issues (Feb. 2012);

•investigating the long-term use and potential of the camp for youth programs and economic development opportunities (May 2014);

•advocating for a restructuring of the governance of the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board in an effort to achieve a level of equity that is reflective of the Town’s contribution and interests (ongoing);

•working with all regional stakeholders (municipalities, First Nations) to develop a co-operative model that will help share the operational costs of the Fort Frances Airport (Jan. 2012).

With the approval of the plan by council, McCaig said that staff would begin work on implementing the strategic plan right away.

“The document is a living document,” McCaig stated, saying that the previous strategic plan was an “effective exercise” and he hopes that the new strategic plan will be as well.

“It’s a document that, last time, I thought worked very well because we assigned responsibility and we assigned time lines in regards to their completion,” he said. “And I think we were pretty successful, barring extenuating circumstance, of staying on track with regards to that document.”

McCaig pointed to the various community organizations which have been a part of the planning process, such as the Sister kennedy Board ,The Assisted Living group, the Economic Development Advisory Committee, and Rainy River Futures Development Corp.

“This document, we really tried hard to have it more broad based community participation type process ,and I think we were successful,” said McCaig. “We actively solicited input from the community. We had people present during the public portion, we had people make written submissions, we even had some people attend the formal setting out at Sunny Cove.

“So we did our best to include the public.”

But he added that the town needs to have an “engaged and informed community” participating with the document, and giving feedback.

“Municipal government works better when it’s participatory,” he stressed.

Copies of the plan are available at the town hall.

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