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District crowned 'safe community'

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Rainy River District has been named one of 10 safe communities across the country, and will be handed the prestigious title officially at a ceremony here Nov. 13.

And that has opened up funding doors—to the tune of $25,000 over two years from the Safe Communities Foundation—for the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition, allowing it to hire a part-time safety co-ordinator.

“The last week of September we were given our designation as a safe community,” said newly-hired Elaine Caron, who's working out of the coalition's new office at 300 Scott St.

“The official launch [Nov. 13] is just to let everybody know that we want to work toward safety,” she added.

RRVSC chairman Doug Anderson said there were both social and economic spinoffs for being named one of the 10 founding safe communities, including a chance to have up to 75 percent of Workplace Safety Board (formerly the Workers' Compensation Board) premiums rebated.

And that could mean a lot of dollars coming back to the community, he noted, with loggers paying $13 for every $100 salary toward workers' compensation and carpenters dishing out about $10.

So far, 10 businesses have signed up for the rebate program, with the RRVSC aiming to have 50 on board.

“It truly is a big chunk of money,” Anderson admitted, adding it also could lead to a reduction in home and car insurance premiums.

“It can be a savings for all individuals in the community.”

But Anderson also stressed the economic benefits were secondary to the social gains the district would achieve by being more focused on safety.

“Safety will be actually foremost on people's minds,” agreed Fort Frances Mayor Glenn Witherspoon.

“We want the whole [district] to feel a part of this safe communities objective," echoed Caron. "The possibilities are endless.”

Meanwhile, Caron will be working on initiatives with the coalition's subcommittees in the areas of family and school, recreation, elderly, farm and rural, safe community infrastructure, law enforcement, education and training, along with small and big business.

“We're also going to be working on compiling statistics for our district,” she added.

Another big goal of the RRVSC is to become part of the World Health Organization's safe communities, and perhaps host a WHO safety conference here in the year 2002.

That will include getting all district municipalities on board, making several improvements, and three on-site visits.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” Anderson admitted.

Other communities to be deemed “safe” are Brockville, Waterloo, Peterborough, Kingston, Lambton, and Smiths Falls in Ontario, and Medicine Hat, Lakeland, and Strathcona in Alberta.

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