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Water, sewer rate hike approved


Fort Frances residents will see a slight difference on their next sewer and water bill after town council passed a bylaw Monday night approving a two percent increase to rates for all classes.

The increase was approved by a vote of 5-1, with Couns. John Albanese, Roy Avis, Tannis Drysdale, Todd Hamilton, and Rick Wiedenhoeft voting in favour of it and Mayor Dan Onichuk voting against it.

Coun. Neil Kabel had to leave the meeting prior to the vote.

“The reason for [the increase] is the projected works for sewer and water this year would have required taking a certain amount out of reserves. And [council] didn’t want to deplete the reserves any further,” Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig had noted last month after council first approved the hike in principle.

“So the number they’re looking at constitutes a two percent rate increase, which is probably appropriate with the rising costs in any given year,” McCaig added.

“It’s a nominal, normal type increase you’d pass on with any utility.”

The vote came after a public meeting was held in order to give people the opportunity to speak in favour of, or against, the rate increase.

But there was no comments from the public, nor any discussion amongst council, during this meeting.

The rate increase comes into effect immediately, and will be factored into utility customers’ next bill (for the months of January and February).

Last year, residential and commercial customers saw a 10 percent increase in their sewer and water rates.

< *c>Clinic update

Also Monday night, McCaig gave an update on the Fort Frances Community Clinic and its board’s application to establish a Family Health Team (FHT) here.

McCaig outlined the entire history of how the process of getting a FHT here began—from when town was first approached regarding the Group Health Association (GHA) partnership up to the most recent development, in which the inaugural board forwarded an FHT application to the GHA.

The GHA, in turn, passed the application on to the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care prior to the Feb. 15 deadline to get in on the final wave of FHT funding.

Mayor Onichuk also pledged to organize a meeting in the near future for all district municipal leaders to discuss the future of the clinic, as well as other health care issues.

Also at Monday night’s meeting, council:

•heard the 2005 year-end police activities report from OPP detachment commander Insp. Dave Lucas;

•referred a 2006 per capita funding notice, and a copy of the 2006-09 strategic plan, from the Rainy River Future Development Corp. to the Administration and Finance executive committee for a recommendation;

•passed a bylaw to approve an agreement with the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. for the financing of a heritage tourism project under the Infrastructure and Community Development Program; and

•passed a bylaw to authorize the entering into of lease agreements for hangars and parking lot spaces at the Fort Frances Municipal Airport.

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