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Town urges property owners to clean up highway

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Council discussed proposed amendments to the property standards by-law that would see property owners along the Highway 11/71 corridor install fences, shrubs or trees to obscure outdoor storage areas, salvage yards, and heavy equipment.

The amendments, which had received first reading, were intended to clean up the roadside near the entrances into Fort Frances.

“’Fencing’ as described by the by-law, I think the consensus of council is that fencing is not what we’re talking about,” Mayor Glenn Witherspoon said.

“We’re actually enforcing people [who own property] along the highway, commercial property, to keep unattractive machinery to the back of their property.”

Coun. Deane Cunningham suggested that perhaps a by-law wasn’t the best way to accomplish the clean-up.

“Let’s work with the property owners in the area, co-operation between the town and the owners,” he said.

In a meeting with town officials in February, many retail property owners said their livelihoods depended on their products being visible from the road. Some also suggested the town take more care to keep their property clean.

Council agreed not to make the proposed amendment changes and work with property owners instead. Still Witherspoon wanted to ensure the clean-up was a priority.

“During the WHO conference, the town will be under intense scrutiny,” Witherspoon said. “It’s got to be done before May 6. I don’t want to run in May 4th and ask what’s going on.”

Also during the council meeting, a date was set for a public meeting on the possibility of a smoking by-law. Anyone interested in making a presentation on the issue of a possible smoking ban in all public places is urged to attend the April 2 meeting in council chambers at 7 p.m.

Dr. Pete Sarsfield, CEO and medical officer of the Northwestern Health Unit, urged council in a letter to enact a 100 percent smoke-free bylaw in all workplaces by May, 31, but Witherspoon said that council would work on their own timeline.

“When I went to the polls in the last election, I didn’t see Pete Sarsfield on the ballot,” he remarked.

Council approved a number of by-laws, including:

•a by-law authorizing the collective agreement with CUPE local 65;

•a by-law to approve purchase, licensing and maintenance agreements and other documents with various suppliers of computer hardware and software;

•a by-law to approve an agreement with the CIBC for a VISA purchasing card program for town staff; and

•a by-law to approve a contract awarded through the tendering process for grind recycled asphalt.

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