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Residents still urged to pick up condo survey


Following up a public information session last Wednesday evening to gauge interest in a second condominium building here, it’s now up to potential buyers to let economic development officer Geoff Gillon know what they want out of any potential development.

“I think the evening went very well. A good turnout and significant interest in the project,” noted Gillon referring to last week’s meeting at the Civic Centre that attracted 40-50 people.

He handed out 25 surveys to people that evening, 10 of which have since been returned to the Rainy River Future Development Corp. office (608 Scott St.)

The survey, as Gillon explained last Wednesday, asks for information like buyers’ age, what size of condominium they’re looking for, how many people would be living there, what amenities they’d like to have (air conditioning, etc.), and what they would expect to pay.

These can be picked up at the RRFDC office, and also should be available for download from the RRFDC’s website——by the end of the week.

Gillon noted feedback expressed through the surveys will help potential developers determine whether there are enough people interested in buying into a second condominium project here.

In response to questions from the audience, Gillon said the new condo probably would have 30 units, like the Riverwalk Condominiums does, and possibly would be built on land currently owned by the town located on the waterfront (although the exact location would be up to the developer if building elsewhere would be more cost-effective).

Gillon stressed there’s no actual plans for a development at this point, adding last week’s meeting strictly was to gauge interest. Other than as a facilitator, he said the town will not be involved in any condo development, such as it was with Riverwalk Condominiums.

Rather, it would be full private-sector.

Several people on hand for last Wednesday’s meeting said they would be in favour of buying a condo unit if the town sold the riverfront property to a developer.

Coun. Ken Perry, speaking as a contractor, said he believes it’s possible a consortium of local investors could build a condominium if enough people want it.

“I went to the bank today [Sept.. 24] and talked to the bank manager, and there’s possibilities. He said he’d like to see 75-80 percent [of the units] pre-sold, but the bank is not against loaning money to get things started, to get things going,” Coun. Perry noted.

“I think anything’s possible in Fort Frances. But if we don’t facilitate this and get it rolling, we may miss the boat,” he warned. “I think there’s a lot of people ready for condos, and ready for housing.

“Council’s not interested in getting into the financial end of it, but helping people, helping out the whole project, I think they are,” stressed Coun. Perry. “I’m willing to get involved.”

Gillon also received questions last Wednesday about the need for an assisted living complex here.

While Gillon explained he was there to speak about condos, he had predicted the topic would come up and had prepared sheets for people to sign, which he would pass on to council and/or other parties (such as the DSSAB or Riverside).

Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig said the topic of an assisted living complex was identified during the town’s recent strategic planning session, and will be considered during the 2009 budget process after council recently received two letters from local residents.

But he clarified it would be a community-based initiative, and involve other agencies like the DSSAB and Riverside.

A woman in attendance said she was in favour of an assisted living complex, but noted, “I hope that the general community has a good understanding of what assisted living is,” reiterating it would be a government-funded initiative that would have to involve other agencies.

Local resident Allan T. Bedard asked McCaig if the town has looked into “granny flats” (residences for seniors located on the same property as their relatives) as an economic development initiative, as was suggested during a presentation he and Bill Krukoski had given to council earlier this year.

Their same document also suggested more programs for seniors that would tie into economic development.

Neither Gillon nor McCaig recalled seeing said document, so Bedard said he would be sure to give them copies.

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