If the public wants any Fun in the Sun activities to happen here next Canada Day, more people need to volunteer.
That message was made loud and clear by town council during its regular meeting Monday night.
Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig said the town will be advertising for volunteers to sit on the FITS committee because the number of people willing to help out has dwindled to a crisis point.
He noted service clubs gradually have backed away from organizing many community events in recent years but the public still wants to see those take place.
“Without a steady complement of volunteers, it seems that people are looking more to the town to carry the ball on some of these things,” said McCaig.
He stressed the FITS committee is not a town committee but noted the town is willing to help facilitate the “reinvigoration” of the committee in hopes it will continue on as it always has—with like-minded citizens putting on Canada Day activities.
“So we’re going to put out some ads for some volunteers to sit on the Canada Day committee,” McCaig remarked.
“But I can tell the town isn’t going to assume this responsibility.
“Our involvement has been to provide in-kind services and to provide a monetary contribution as it relates to the fireworks,” he noted.
While it’s not unusual to hear people say, “Why isn’t this at the Point or that at the Point,” McCaig said the answer lies with like-minded volunteers getting together to make that a reality.
“We are going to try [to see] if we can bring people together and let them go work on their own,” he reiterated.
With Canada’s 150th birthday coming up in 2017, there will be enhanced events going on across Canada.
As such, getting a committee in place in anticipation of that would be ideal, noted McCaig.
“We’re going to try and get some more volunteers,” he remarked.
“But if we don’t get volunteers, the town can’t guarantee that there’s going to be anything happening on July 1 with the exception of fireworks,” he warned.
Community Services manager Jason Kabel noted there was a parade, volleyball tournament, baseball tourney, bathtub races, and fireworks this past Canada Day.
But the “first casualty,” he noted, was children’s activities as there were no volunteers to run them.
“Without more volunteers, it would sure be tragic to see some of these other things fall by the wayside,” said Kabel.
“So I suppose we are requesting, if not pleading, for people to come forward.”
Fortunately, long-time volunteer Dave Coates will be back on board to take care of the fireworks while several other individuals already have stepped forward to spearhead children’s activities.
Deputy Mayor June Caul said she and Coun. Ken Perry have put themselves out there to try and help where they can, and they are aware some local citizens are interested in rebuilding “what we used to have in Fort Frances.”
“The more you get out there and start talking about Canada Day to people, people miss that family connection and miss the activities,” she noted.
“Hopefully, some people will step up to the plate and take on these jobs.
“It’s a big job but it sure it worthwhile for the community,” she added.
The dwindling volunteer base for Canada Day is not an isolated problem, said McCaig, noting the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship faces a similar problem.
“Those diehard people that are involved with the bass tournament, they work pretty hard to keep that event going for the enjoyment of everybody in the community,” he remarked.
“But we’re finding now that the town’s being asked to do this or that, and I can’t ever foresee a day where it will become a town-run event,” McCaig added.
“We’re relying on the people of the town to come together and volunteer for these events.”