Last week's announcement that the town is acquiring the Shevlin wood yard and the former nurses' station on Mowat Avenue from Resolute Forest Products for a nominal fee has resulted in a mixed reaction from the public.
The Fort Frances Times' Facebook page has received dozens of comments regarding the decision.
“If the land is environmentally safe, why not an assisted living complex?” offered Chris Lowe.
“Lord knows Fort Frances has many seniors who want to remain in the Fort and not have to move, including me, for such a place. You baby-boomers are getting old, too,” she added.
“We could definitely benefit [from] some more green space that can be enjoyed by everyone—amphitheatre, splash park, room for FFCBC tents, etc.” suggested Sherri Christiansen.
“Would make great retirement condos!” mentioned Andrew Mickelson.
“They want the town to be a tourist destination, here is their chance to develop something," noted Terry "Goose” McMahon.
“The Rainy Lake Square is doing nothing for the town. Using this for residential would be a huge waste and not do much for the town,” he added.
McMahon later commented that he would like to see town council “make a space where people can actually go and do stuff in this town,” which might, for example, include volleyballs courts.
Alex T. Bruyere said he wished for an “all-season turfed facility” while April Heyens suggested a dog park.
Other people expressed concern about the state of the land.
“Anything developed on that land would require an environmental impact assessment to determine soil contamination/condition before approval to develop would be given,” noted Tim Mitchell.
“Talk to the City of Calgary about the land that the King family [Flames' owners] wants to use for their new arena project,” said Manny Rego.
“It's city-owned and a former sawmill/railroad tie treatment facility the clean-up cost as of last assessment is at $250 million,” he noted.
“So could this be seen as an admission that Resolute has no intention of ever selling/restarting the mill? How about cleaning up the whole mess then?” asked Scott Hamilton.
But as reported in last week's Times, Mayor Roy Avis said, “We have been reassured by Resolute many times that there's nothing wrong with that property and they've done the environmental drilling.”
He added the purchase agreement will not close until this Friday (Aug. 24), and the town will do its due diligence "make sure it's done right.
Meanwhile, the Times' weekly web poll—which asked “Are you in favour of the town buying the wood yard property?"—garnered (255) votes in total, with roughly two-thirds (62 percent) of participants saying they were "absolutely” in favour of the purchase.
Sixteen percent said they were “not at all" in favour of it while 12 percent said "somewhat" and 10 percent responded "unsure.”