The issues facing the community of Fort Frances clearly were spelled out by the candidates attending the forum hosted by the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce last night at the Townshend Theatre.
The tasks identified by the two mayoral hopefuls and seven of the eight candidates for council included:
- Financial stability in the community through the expansion of housing, businesses, and industry;
- Building relationships and working with First Nation and municipal communities in the district;
- Housing—candidates addressed the need for seniors' housing, assisted living, more nursing care residences, and affordable housing for young professionals to come and live in the community;
- Health care—the difficulties of addiction, mental health, homelessness, and the doctor shortage were addressed; and
- Making Fort Frances a destination for tourists rather than just a gateway to Northwestern Ontario.
It is a comprehensive list but all the candidates seemed up to the challenge. As Doug Judson admonished the sparse audience, “It will require a great deal of creativity” to get communities and people working together.
Almost all candidates felt our community was at a pivotal point in its history, with a window of opportunity to move from a forest-based economy to a mining economy to an unknown economy with only a small window of years to make that happen.
The key, as identified by a majority of the candidates, was how to develop the Shevlin wood yard so it will have a great economic impact for the community.
In the next 11 days, it is important that everyone take the time to read and research the candidates. Potentially two present members of council will return and there will be a minimum of five new faces on council.
It is important to ask yourself who has the ability to tackle the pressing known issues of the community? Where should the energies of the community be placed? And who are the best candidates to lead a pivotal change in the outlook of the community?
Voting in Fort Frances—via phone and the internet only—begins on Oct. 15 and runs through Oct. 22.