At a time when the tourism industry in Northwestern Ontario is facing so many serious challenges, it’s great to see Fort Frances isn’t prepared to throw in the towel just yet when it comes to attracting visitors.
First, kudos to all involved who pushed to get the long-overdue—and much-needed—renovations to the Fort Frances Museum. The money was well spent, especially given the rave reviews from local residents who attended a “sneak peek” of the $900,000 makeover yesterday.
Once the exhibits are in place come June, it’s clear Fort Frances will have a top-notch museum again we all can be proud of.
But while the museum rightfully should be the centrepiece of our tourist attraction, Phase II of the Heritage Tourism project is an ambitious plan to enhance the downtown core and the riverfront along the La Verendrye Parkway—most notably, re-locating the Hallett and Lookout Tower from Pither’s Point to the area near the Sorting Gap Marina.
For its part, the local Business Improvement Association continues to push its “Great Canadian Main Street” concept as a way to both market the downtown core and give visitors a reason to spend their time—and money—once here.
None of this will come cheap, of course. Even with funding from federal and provincial sources, local taxpayers still will have to foot at least some of the bill. But really, what’s the alternative? Allow the downtown core to rot away completely? Good luck trying to attract visitors then. Tourism dollars, for many reasons, are drying up, which is why it’s so important for Fort Frances to take the bull by the horns when it comes to marketing our town and creating attractions, rather than simply sitting back and shrugging our shoulders in defeat.
The ideas are there. What’s needed now is the foresight to see them through.