Fort Frances may not have been among the five communities to win the first-ever “Caring Community" award from the Trillium Foundation but members of the "Tomorrow” committee here are still calling the town a winner.
The town made the short-list of 26 finalists for the award, which includes a $20,000 grant to go towards community development, but missed out on cracking the top five.
But that doesn’t have people feeling down.
“People were really excited just to make it to the smaller group," noted "Tomorrow” committee member Bob Jeffery.
“We were winners," agreed committee chair Jim Cumming. ”From the work of the ‘Tomorrow’ committee, the community has endeavoured to do a whole lot of things to improve the quality of life across the community.
“Being recognized as one of 26 communities across Ontario was the icing on the cake," he added. "It would have been nice [to win] but I’m extremely proud of our district.”
The winning communities were Ear Falls, the County Park neighbourhood in Thunder Bay, Cornwall, Waterloo Region, and the West Bay First Nation on Manitoulin Island.
Jeffery said he hadn’t followed up on what the achievements of the other communities were but he did note Ear Falls deserved to be among the winners.
“They did a phenomenal amount of work in a lot of areas," he said. "They salvaged business, attracted larger business. I think they deserve it.”
Word of the Trillium award came to the “Tomorrow” committee through Cumming, who had heard of it at the Ontario Community Newspapers Association convention last spring in Toronto.
Submitting the application for the award involved a lot of talking among community members, Jeffery said, and for the committee to “sit back and reflect on what’s happened.”
In fact, the process has been so beneficial that Jeffery hoped the “Tomorrow” committee will continue the information gathering and sharing process with the whole district.
“The more energy that can be worked together, the more impact it will have,” he stressed.
“As a ‘Tomorrow’ committee, we’re already going out to people to redevelop the strategic plan over the next five years,” Cumming said, noting they were very pleased with what steps had been taken with the current strategic plan.
“Being a caring community means you do not stop doing things," he added. "And you have to have community leaders ready to hear out issues from the public.”