A town delegation once again is heading to Toronto to “bend the ear" of various provincial ministers and parliamentary secretaries on seemingly chronic issues such as the need for a full-time Crown Attorney and resident judge here, the lack of "Connecting Link” funding to help repair our deteriorating roads, and timber management, just to name a few.
Give the town credit for being tenacious in pursuing these issues with the powers that be at Queen's Park year after year. As Fort Frances CAO Doug Brown put it, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.”
If that's the case, we evidently need to get a lot squeakier.
And it's not just Fort Frances. Many of these issues—particularly involving the judicial system here, timber management, and doctor recruitment, for instance—directly affect municipalities and First Nations' communities right across Rainy River District. Railway taxation reform, meanwhile, would translate into an economic windfall for communities all over the province.
The province did get us a Crown Attorney last year—who lasted less than five months, citing an “excessive workload.” As for a new forest tenure system set to take effect in 2020, it remains to be seen whether that will help our idled mill restart to make some kind of product from the wood.
Regarding railway taxes, the province upped the minimum to $80 an acre from $35 but has stopped short of basing taxation on tonnage, as is done in other provinces, which potentially would mean hundreds of thousands of dollars in much-needed revenue for municipalities. And Ontario doesn't seem keen to budge on that given the town's delegates couldn't even get a meeting on the issue next week.
Bottom line, if we want the grease, clearly we need to create a sustained district-wide roar if we ever hope to get the province to finally hear us.