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Chamber projects, assisted living units requested

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In response to a call for input into its 2009 budget, the Town of Fort Frances received only a few requests from local groups and residents during a public meeting here Monday night.

Cathy Emes, first vice-president for the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce, asked council to support several ventures, ranging from marketing to beautification.

Emes said the Chamber would like a $7,500 fee-for-service for the purposes of marketing Fort Frances as a tourist destination.

“One of our main focuses will again be to promote Fort Frances through increased marketing initiatives,” she told council. “As in past years, we will concentrate our marketing activities in several key areas, including advertising in regional brochures and magazines such as Discover Fort Frances, Sunset Country Travel Guide, and the Northwestern Ontario Vacation Guide Map.

“These publications reach thousands of potential tourists to the area, many of whom specifically call our office after seeing these ads for additional tourist information,” she noted.

Emes also said the Chamber will be revamping its website (www.fortfranceschamber.com) in 2009 to include more in-depth visitor information and online maps of the area.

“As we have learned through the years, many visitors consider the Chamber of Commerce their first, and perhaps the only organization, to contact for information on the area,” Emes remarked. “As a result, our office receives thousands of requests for information via e-mail, phone calls, and walk-in visitors every year.

“Additionally, hundreds of tourist packages are mailed out across Canada, the United States, and overseas, and thousands of hits are received on our website monthly.

“With the assistance of the Town of Fort Frances, we are able to provide up-to-date tourist information and assist visitors when they arrive,” Emes stressed.

She also noted the Chamber, following the lead of communities such as Dryden, Kenora, and Winnipeg, would like $2,500 in matching funds to hire an intern to research a Destination Marketing Fee for Fort Frances.

“The main objective of the intern will be to establish an organizational framework, operating procedures, and a three-year marketing plan for the DMF,” Emes explained. “The plan will identify marketing priorities and potential partnerships for the delivery of the marketing program.

“The main objective of the plan will be to increase tourism in our area and diversify the local economy.”

The plan will propose that a voluntary Destination Marketing Fee will be collected at Fort Frances hotels, which will be used to support marketing meant to increase the number of visitors to town.

The funded partnership will see FedNor cover 90 percent of wages while the Chamber will provide office space, supplies, and operating assistance.

The town, as a partner, would provide funds to cover the additional 10 percent in wages and other mandatory employment-related costs.

Emes said the Chamber also would like continued support from the town for “Project Petunia” through the watering of baskets and planters.

Each year, the Chamber hangs about 60 flowering baskets in the Central Avenue/Third St. West area, as well as puts out 18 planters on concrete islands, complementing the 30 baskets the BIA has in the Scott Street area.

Assisted living

Also Monday night, council received letters from local residents Dino D’Agostini and June Caul, both of whom made requests to see assisted living apartments built here.

“The need for assisted living apartments has often been discussed by residents of Fort Frances. It is suggested that this subject be discussed at the Sept. 24 meeting [on the proposed new condominium],” D’Agostini wrote.

“Such a facility would enhance the living conditions of many single and married residents. It would also decrease the pressure for residing at Rainycrest and lower the need for other types of accommodations in Fort Frances,” he added.

Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig said the subject of assisted living apartments will be investigated, but will be done so in association with relevant health agencies and the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board.

Coun. John Albanese said he knows of other residents who want to see assisted living housing here, and even was given a binder full of information on an assisted living housing project that almost became a reality here back in 1995.

He turned it over to administration to use a resource.

The town is hoping to pass the 2009 budget by April 13.

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