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A closer look at role of Operations and Facilities

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This week marks Local Government Week, which is being promoted by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario as a time for the public to learn more about municipal government.

This is the fourth article in a series describing the roles and responsibilities of council and the four town divisions (Administration and Finance, Community Services, Operations and Facilities, and Planning and Development).

Whether it’s road maintenance, taking care of the town’s water supply, running the airport, or tending to local parks and cemeteries, the Operations and Facilities division has the widest range of responsibilities of all the divisions.

At the top of the division is Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown, followed by accounting clerk Sherin Hagen, executive assistant Sandra Robertson, Transportation superintendent Milt Strachan, Environmental and Facilities superintendent Doug Herr, and Airport and Parks superintendent Bill Caul.

In turn, each department has numerous staff ranging from labourers to engineers and equipment operators.

Strachan’s responsibilities includes roadways and lanes, sidewalks, street lights, traffic lights, the storm sewer system, stores, and equipment and vehicle maintenance.

As a point of interest, the Town of Fort Frances has 152 lane km of hard top (asphalt), 10 lane km of loose top (gravel), 33.2 km of storm sewers, 52 km of storm sewer ditches, two bridge structures (Caul Bridge on McIrvine Road and the Mill Road overpass), about 15.7 km of “Connecting Link” highways, 13 traffic signal intersections and 1,005 street lights, and 42 km of sidewalks.

When it comes to roads, town staff provide short-term maintenance activities, such as line painting, curb and gutter repairs, dust suppression, storm sewer cleaning, and winter control activities, but long-term jobs, such as asphalt resurfacing, are outsourced.

This department also provides maintenance service not only to its own equipment and vehicles, but those used by the fire department, recreation department, airport, Planning and Development, library, administration, and more.

Herr’s responsibilities include the water system, sanitary sewer system, waste management system, engineering and surveying, and facilities.

The town operates two drinking water systems—the main one and a groundwater well at the airport terminal building. Both systems are maintained and operated according to the Safe Drinking Water Act and Ministry of Environment regulations.

This includes regular sampling of water for quality testing (four samples a week).

The town’s water distribution system include 70.72 km of watermains, 645 main isolation valves, and 394 fire hydrants.

The sewer collection system also is operated and maintained by town staff. There are 56.2 km of sewer mains in Fort Frances, consisting of 3.1 km of pressurized forcemain, 31.8 km of gravity sewer mains, and 578 sanitary manholes.

The waste management system includes weekly garbage collection services to about 3,800 households and bi-weekly curbside recycling pickup. This currently is contracted out to Asselin Transportation & Storage Ltd.

About 7,000 tonnes of waste is delivered annually to the landfill site, which currently is operated by Tom Veert Contractng.

Caul’s responsibilities include the airport, parks, cemeteries, and outdoor rink facilities.

The town has two cemeteries—Riverview and Fort Frances Cemeteries—both of which have flowers that are planted annually and maintained by town staff.

Cemetery maintenance also includes interment of caskets and cremated remains, plot care maintenance, monument repairs, cutting and trimming of grass, and liaising with monument dealers and the Department of Veteran Affairs.

These staff also tend to the local playgrounds, as well as the RV campground at Pither’s Point Park.

Parks staff also do an initial spring clean-up each year, cut and trim grass in various areas around town, clean, repair, and maintain washrooms at local parks, remove garbage from the parks and along the waterfront, maintain all walkways, benches, lamp posts, handicap ramps, gazebos, etc., repair, rebuild, and maintain outdoor rinks, and assist all town departments upon request.

In addition to daily runway inspections, first response firefighting, radio communications, temperature and precipitation reporting, snow removal, line painting, tending to airfield lighting, and grass cutting, airport staff make sure to provide professional and courteous service to all their customers to promote repeated usage of the airport facilities from year to year.

Bearskin Airline is a regular flight service that links Fort Frances to Winnipeg and Thunder Bay. Airport staff provide baggage handling, de-icing, and ground power starts.

The Operations and Facilities executive committee consists of manager Doug Brown, and Couns. Rick Wiedenhoeft (chair), Paul Ryan, and John Albanese.

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