With changes ranging from branding the downtown area as the “Great Canadian Main Street” to traffic routes being changed to one-way streets, a meeting will be held June 13 to let residents have their say on the Downtown Core Committee report before it is fully implemented.
Council approved the request for such a public meeting Monday night.
This request stemmed from a meeting of members of the Downtown Core Committee, Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig, and several members of council on March 29, at which time the group decided a meeting for the public and affected stakeholders was necessary, particularly with regards to the traffic flow and parking recommendations in the report.
“There’s some parts of it that will affect all of Fort Frances, not just the downtown core, especially the traffic flow,” noted Patti-Jo Reid, chair of the local Economic Development Advisory Committee and a member of the Downtown Core Committee.
“We wanted the people to have an opportunity, the stakeholders as well as the citizens of Fort Frances, to have some input into it,” she added.
“There’s a phased section,” Reid said. “There’s seems to be some work being done on Phase Two and Phase One hasn’t been addressed.
“We thought instead of putting the cart before the horse, those people who are going to be affected by the traffic flow should have the opportunity to express their concerns or say go ahead.”
For example, Reid noted Phase One of the parking and traffic flow section of the report recommends making Central Avenue one-way from Scott Street south to the entrance to the bridge, and Church Street one-way from Mowat Avenue west to the entrance of the bridge.
“That would constitute making a secure zone,” she noted. “If, in fact, there is some switching of buildings, which may happen, it would facilitate the direct flow right across the border, that way not making Scott Street a dead-end or First Street a dead-end.
“Try Phase One first and see if it helps the problem, which is only a problem for a few weekends in the summer,” Reid remarked. “Address Phase One first and then go on to Phase Two [which would see Central Avenue closed from Second Street East to Church Street].
“That has to be addressed by the people it affects,” she stressed. “Phase One, Phase Two, whichever phase, they should have input into it.”
Reid said she wants the public to educate themselves about the Downtown Core Committee plan, and encouraged anyone interested to pick up copies of the report at the Civic Centre so they can prepare questions—or even presentations—for the June 13 meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. at the Civic Centre.
She noted letters are being sent out to local stakeholders to encourage their attendance at the meeting and laying out the timeframe for possible implementation.
Council received the Downtown Core Committee report back in late November.
The committee had met between January and October to devise a report addressing how to revitalize downtown Fort Frances.
Created as a working body under the EDAC, the committee—consisting of members of the EDAC, the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce, Business Improvement Association, Abitibi-Consolidated, Re-Inventing Fort Frances, and the Rainy River Future Development Corp.—met to discuss pertinent issues and formulate possible solutions to problems.
Issues identified included traffic flow, parking, funding, museum plan support, alleys and lanes, tourist centre relocation, the public library, the town as a destination point, signage, and downtown branding.
Four sub-committees were formed to review and analyze each of these issues, which then were grouped into four sections—traffic flow, parking, alleys/lanes, and the Tourist Information Centre relocation; signage; branding and downtown issues; and council issues.
Those subcommittees met and provided final reports of their discussions and ideas, which then were compiled in the document given to council in November.