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Council hears input on 2008 budget

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Anticipating another busy year ahead promoting Fort Frances and its business community, the local Chamber of Commerce is requesting $7,500 as its fee-for-service in the 2008 municipal budget.

“The Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce continues to focus direction on promoting our area and the business community through increased marketing initiatives,” Chamber president Christine Denby told council Monday night during a public meeting held so individuals and groups could give council input on next year’s budget.

Denby noted 2007 saw increased marketing activity in several key areas.

For instance, advertising in regional brochures and magazines, including Discover Fort Frances, Sunset Country Travel Guide, and the Border Water Visitor’s Guide, reached thousands of potential tourists to the area.

As well, the Chamber, with the help of the Fort Frances Times Electronic Publishing division, also continues to maintain a website (www.fortfranceschamber.com) that includes a variety of tourist-related information.

“As we have learned through the years, many visitors consider the Chamber of Commerce the first, and perhaps the only, organization to contact for information on the area,” said Denby.

“As a result, our office receives thousands of requests for information via e-mail, phone calls, and walk-in visitors every year.”

Denby noted hundreds of tourist packages were mailed out across Canada and the United States to visitors looking for detailed information on the area.

“These efforts, which benefit the entire community, are valuable and necessary,” she stressed. “As the key contact for the Fort Frances area, the Chamber asks for your continued financial assistance in 2008.”

Aside from the fee-for-service, Denby asked the town to consider funding in its 2008 budget continued investment in “Project Petunia” through the watering of flower baskets as required.

This year, the Chamber had a total of 18 planters and 64 flowering baskets at locations around town. The BIA had an additional 30 baskets in the Scott Street area.

Meanwhile, the local Business Improvement Association requested a credit for monthly charges for supplying electricity to outlets located on lamp posts and trees on the 100-300 blocks of Scott Street.

This credit, which the BIA is required to apply for on annual basis, has a maximum limit of $500.

As well, one local resident—Larry Cousineau—spoke to council on the improvements he’d like to see made to Oakwood Drive and Boundary Road, and street lamps near Lyndy Place.

“Something could be done with the condition of Oakwood Drive and Boundary Road,” he said. “And I’m not taking in front of the residences on Oakwood Drive . . . I’m talking about where you leave the subdivision and go north to the highway.

“It’s approximately 0.8 km and it’s the only exit and entrance to the west end of Fort Frances linking Colonization Road to the highway west of Emo,” he added.

While the road is graded regularly, Cousineau noted that when it rains, “I don’t think there’s a worst road in town.”

“Anybody who doesn’t believe that, next time it rains, take a drive down Oakwood Drive. It’s slimy, it’s dirty, and it’s ugly.

“I guess what I’m hoping is someone will surface treat it, kind of like what’s happening on Idylwild Drive.

“It’s kind of frustrating when go out in the district, to Bone Road in Alberton and Stewart Road and they’re surface treated. You got out to Reef Point, it’s surface treated. You go down to Hopkins Bay Road and it’s surface treated—East Hopkins Bay Road, it’s surface treated,” remarked Cousineau.

“And then the entrance to Fort Frances on a rainy day is a slimy mess. It’s as simple as that.”

While half of the road is owned by the Township of Alberton, and while that municipality may not want to pay to surface treat it, Cousineau suggested the town go ahead and pay to surface treat the whole thing.

“It’s the residents of Fort Frances who are mainly using it,” he reasoned.

Cousineau also said the light standards at Lyndy Place are “rusting away,” and hoped the town could scrape them down and give them a paint job.

“It’s a shame to see them get so deteriorated. I think in four or five years, they’ll have to be replaced,” he noted. “I think it would be a lot easier to repair them now.”

Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig thanked everyone for their input, adding they came forth at the right time to be heard.

“If you want to ask for direct input into your local government, there’s no better opportunity than tonight,” he remarked. “It’s important to come forward and bring these concerns at this outlet.

“And they are going to be given consideration, seriously.”

As a follow-up to Monday’s public meeting, the town’s four executive committees now will review the information received at various meetings during the week of Oct. 1-5.

The executive committees then will review their respective division budgets and recommendations from management in a series of meetings Nov. 9-23.

By Nov. 26, administration will present documents to treasurer Laurie Witherspoon, who then will make a draft budget, which will be reviewed by the committee of the whole at a series of meetings through December, January, and February.

According to the timetable, the 2008 municipal budget should come before council for ratification at its Feb. 25, 2008 meeting.

A public meeting then is slated for March 10, 2008, at which time council is expected to explain the budget and subsequently pass it as a bylaw at its March 24 meeting.

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