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Public input wanted on 'Re-Inventing'

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The public is invited to attend an open house Wednesday hosted by the “Re-Inventing Fort Frances” committee and Winnipeg-based consultants Hilderman, Thomas, Frank and Cram (HTFC).

“This is a plan for the community. We want to hear what they have to say,” said committee chair Susan Bodnarchuk.

“Not only will they get chance to see what we’re doing, but we’ll be getting their input and answering any questions they may have. We want that interaction.

“They should find it interesting.”

The open house will run from 4-8 p.m. at La Place Rendez-Vous.

Consultant Jeff Frank said findings related to a business survey, a traffic survey, and a market potential report will be on display for the public to check out, as well as project objectives and some of the early plans the group has been brainstorming.

“This is really the time to do this. No decisions have been made, we’re in the early stages,” noted Frank. “We won’t know if we’re heading in the direction the public wants if the people don’t tell us.”

HTFC recently released a conceptual drawing of possible enhancements to the town, along with an update on its activities so far. This diagram illustrates a general concept for potential visitor services and enhancements.

While there are a great many uncertainties regarding such issues as Pither’s Point (area 11), the Shevlin wood yard and truck bypass (7), and the old high school site (5), it suggests a possible organization of linked attractions that could be appealing to visitors and provide benefit to the citizens of the town and district.

The key feature is the development of the gateway area (3) in the vicinity of the new Canada Customs facility.

This area currently is the gateway to Canada for more than 400,000 American visitors annually. But few of these visitors now stop in

Fort Frances.

The concept for the gateway area is to make it easy and compelling for these people to stop, visit, and shop, and to provide a hospitable and memorable experience.

The area needs to provide a reason to stop, the organization and signage to make it easy and convenient to stop, and access to a variety of things to see and do once one does stop.

The gateway area will focus on development of a new Ontario Tourism Centre, the relocation of visitor-related services to the area, creating a strong linkage to the Scott Street business district, and adding attractions such as a Sport Fishing Centre or Heritage Centre.

This physical development is one component of the concept related to this existing market group. Marketing, events, and programming also need to be developed to contribute to growing economic benefits.

The successful implementation of the gateway area also is envisioned to pave the way for growth in attracting new visitors to Fort Frances and the region.

Other developments are envisioned to follow as uncertainty regarding

existing key sites are resolved.

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