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‘Re-Inventing’ still waiting for federal funding

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The “Re-Inventing Fort Frances” committee remains hopeful the final piece of its funding puzzle—federal dollars—will fall into place by next month.

“We’re all anxiously awaiting,” committee member Susan Bodnarchuk said Tuesday.

“We did recently have a little meeting with Jennifer Rasmussen [of FedNor] just to be sure things are in line, and she said everything’s a ‘go,’” Bodnarchuk added.

“It’s a matter of working through the different levels.”

The committee landed provincial funding earlier this month when new Northern Development and Mines minister Jim Wilson announced $39,000 towards a feasibility study.

While Bodnarchuk said her group was aware local MP Robert Nault, the minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, was in the district last Friday for a plaque unveiling and fish fry at the Kay-Nah-Chi-Wah-Nung Historical Centre, they weren’t holding their breath for him to make any announcement there regarding “Re-Inventing” funding.

“He also was at the WHO conference, and I didn’t think he would say anything that might take away the thunder from the event itself,” she noted.

Late last month, town council refused to commit to hiring the consulting firm Hilderman, Thomas, Frank and Cram (HTFC) before provincial and federal funding was secured.

But it also agreed to have the matter brought back at a meeting in the near future, at which time, if word has been heard from FedNor and the province, it likely would give the green light to hiring the consultants.

The firm then would begin its work as soon as possible.

The job of the Winnipeg-based consultants, if selected, would be to conduct a feasibility study regarding aspects of the “Re-Inventing” project, which includes everything from promoting the downtown core to possibly transforming the old Fort High property for a number of uses.

One suggestion made by the consultants the committee is going to follow through on is an “envisioning workshop,” where parties such as the town, Business Improvement Area (BIA), and Chamber of Commerce will gather to determine tasks and develop schemes for co-ordinating and funding tasks.

The consulting fee is $108,712 (including GST). This would be paid in part by the town as well as other local contributors, including the Chamber, BIA, and Rainy River Future Development Corp., as well as the provincial and federal governments.

The “Re-Inventing” committee has spent hundreds of hours over the past 10 months working on this project, which is meant to promote tourism in Fort Frances while creating and retaining jobs and revitalizing the business district.

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