I have been following the actions of town council with regards to the new ice facility since former Coun. George Blanc told “Ice for Kids” representatives and town citizens to raise $500,000 so a two-sheet facility could be built using the Dakota (St. Vital) building as a model.
Such was the enthusiasm in the community that “Ice for Kids” raised their commitment in only 30 days. Citizens then were optimistic that the facility promised, unanimously, at the Rendez-Vous meeting would be built.
This optimism dwindled as the time passed, and was slowly replaced by suspicion as the town council had a reputation for reversing their decisions. And lo and behold, at a meeting on Dec. 2, CAO Bill Naturkach presented the arena steering committee with a preliminary drawing showing an “L-shaped” building to be attached to the present pool complex.
What a shock this was for “Ice for Kids" and the citizenry. No mention was made of the Dakota "side-by-side” design promised unanimously earlier in the year. For some reason, the present council is not questioning this decision.
There is a suspicion that the decision was carried over the November election for just this reason.
So now, I will state that I personally voted for Mayor Witherspoon, Coun. Tibbs, Coun. Cunningham, and Coun. Martin. My reason for doing so was that I considered them all honourable individuals, and also they were all present at the Rendez-Vous meeting and had voted unanimously for the “side-by-side" Dakota model. I didn’t believe these people would break that promise to the "Ice for Kids” and the citizens of Fort Frances. But they have done so.
I should add that last week I chatted with a town councillor who attended an arena users group meeting Dec. 9 who said he was shocked to hear the CAO outline the “L-shaped” facility. He had no idea the original plan had been scrapped. Is there a hidden agenda?
“Ice for Kids" were further shattered when they were told that this was no longer an "Ice for Kids” project but a town project, and it was intimated they were no longer to give input. Quite a reward for nearly seven years of dedicated struggle.
The result of all this is the sour feeling in the community caused by the seeds of distrust at the town hall. If the councillors and mayor can break their promise, then pledgers can also break theirs and withhold or withdraw their pledges.
Kenneth J. Egan