Community calendar pitched at meeting
A community calendar featuring events on both sides of the border could be among the joint ventures resulting from a meeting of the BIA and the Fort Frances and International Falls Chambers of Commerce last night at La Place Rendez-Vous.
The overall feeling of the meeting, which drew about 40 people, including eight from the Falls, was that both communities need to get back to working together for the benefit of all.
But in more recent years, “for some reason, it seems to have tightened up a little bit—we’re not working as well as we did together,” he noted.
“We’ve somehow lost that Borderland thinking that we had at one time,” added Anderson.
“What are we going to be like in five years’ time?” he wondered.
Anderson said the lives of Borderland residents is like a circle which overlaps into either community, and that should be kept in mind when promoting the area.
For example, between the two communities, there are numerous ice surfaces, three 18-hole golf courses, three post-secondary schools and a strong educational base, three live theatre venues, and two concert series—but none are promoted commonly.
One way to bring the communities together that will be explored is a calendar to keep track of events happening on either side of the border.
“If you get an events calendar for both sides, and include everything so there’s always something going on, that’s a great a idea,” Gord Watson, chair of the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship, said in response to a suggestion by Jenny Herman of the Koochiching Economic Development Authority (Small Business).
“Then we could help co-ordinate different events,” he reasoned, noting it would allow organizers to fill in weekends, with the Falls having an all-day rock concert one weekend and the Fort being able to do something the next.
Many agreed that not only does there need to be more activities going on, but what is available now has to be promoted so that both residents and tourists are aware of what is going on and when.
The Fort and Falls Chamber agreed to look into the calendar idea.
The parties also will look at a producing a map featuring both Fort Frances and International Falls together on one side, and what services are available in each community on the other.
Falls’ mayor Bob Anderson said both communities are full-service communities and they should promote each other.
If, for example, someone on the U.S. side can’t their boat fixed on that side, maybe they could be referred to have it fixed at Badiuk Equipment over here.
A map of Fort Frances indicating sites tourists regularly ask about—such as the Chamber of Commerce office, LCBO, The Beer Store, boat launch, beach, library, museum, and post office—was created as a result of the January meeting of the BIA and local Chamber.
The flip side of that map has a list of activities to do in Fort Frances.
This map will be distributed to businesses to hand out to tourists.
Another idea that will be looked into is the creation of additional camping sites in the Fort Frances area.
Paul Noonan, owner of La Place Rendez-Vous, suggested town council be approached about turning Kiwanis Sunny Cove Camp into a campground, almost at the level of a provincial park.
He added this would give tourists a place to stay and “hold them here for a little while.”
Ben Morelli of “From the Grind Up” noted it also might be a good idea to provide incentives for cabin owners to rent their cabins to tourists, like a time share.
Another idea pitched was a website, which would be an online directory for businesses on both sides of the border, while yet another was the creation of a logo/tag line to brand Borderland and help promote both communities together.
Still another idea was to encourage schools to have students cross the border to do projects and make presentations to their Canadian/U.S. counterparts, or to play sports against one another.
The local Chamber also will look into having a luncheon with Canada Border Services to request that border officers be more friendly to U.S. visitors and “act as ambassadors, not just border guards,” noted George Emes.
The Falls Chamber held a similar luncheon with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection with great success.
The groups will meet again April 3.