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New opportunities

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New councils bring new opportunities to communities. Across the district from Rainy River through to Fort Frances, new councils sworn in this week.

New councillors, mayors, and reeves bring new insights to their communities and the priority of projects they will pursue. Hoped-for projects that were touted during campaigns often will be placed on backburners as councillors learn of the ongoing work planned by municipal staff.

That does not mean that new ideas will be abandoned, but often those ideas will need study and understanding by staff, councillors, and consultants. It often will necessitate exploration of federal and provincial funding opportunities.

In Fort Frances, I look that the community has five new members on council, although two have previous experience. All seven members of council have new committees and responsibilities and will need time to grow into their jobs.

The new Fort Frances council has a balance of young and older. It was wonderful to see the excitement of each member as they were sworn in on Monday night. They have good experience from a variety of roles in their previous careers which will benefit the community.

As former mayor and councillor Deane Cunningham noted, they will serve the community well but it will be a different flavour than previous councils.

In Mayor June Caul's inaugural address on Monday night, she clearly laid out several issues, the first being to resolve the Point Park issue, the second to address affordable and assisted housing, and the third to begin the planning for the future development of the Shevlin wood yard—all the while maintaining fiscal responsibility for the community.

In the background will be decisions about the Resolute mill in Fort Frances, and the consequences should it be dismantled and its impact on municipal taxes.

Those are known issues. Council will be challenged by other issues that will come its way over the next four years.

They are the unknowns but working as a team, they will address each of those issues as they present themselves, as other councils have done that preceded them.

Jim Cumming

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