Good news was recently announced relating to the town's public safety.
On Friday, local MPP Greg Rickford visited a packed Council Chambers to share his government's recent investment in a new $18-million OPP detachment that is expected to be built here by the fall of 2020.
“I can't wait for the great grand opening and I'm sure as I see the [OPP] members up there with big smiles that they're looking forward to reporting to a brand new modern facility.” Rickford said during his announcement.
The Fort Frances OPP headquarters that is being built on 200 McIrvine Road will oversea all the provincial policing operations across the district, making this new facility a benefit to all officers in the area.
“They're responsible for the entire district and beyond, they serve a vast region, and they're members deserve a state of the art facility - not just as a place of work but as a place to offer community engagement,” Rickford remarked.
The 19,000 sq. foot facility will have suitable office spaces, lockers, showers, fitness room, lunch room, secured vaults, interview rooms, and a significant cell block area containing seven cells.
It will also feature fully-equipped operational areas, a new fingerprint room, breath rooms, and spacious evidence vaults with a proper processing area.
“That's become so important these days—our handling of evidence and property in general,” said OPP Chief Superintendent Dave Lucas.
“There's a lot of regulations we have to comply with there,” he added.
The funding for the new facility comes from the province's recent commitment to investing more than $182-million to replace aging police facilities' infrastructure.
The Fort Frances detachment is one of nine across the province that received a financial commitment to have the project move forward.
“Once this building is completed and we move in, our members are actually going to provide an enhanced service to the community and our officers, auxiliary officers, and civilian employees should expect nothing less,” Lucas remarked.
During the announcement he made note of his excitement to move the town's OPP officers into a brand new, modernized facility.
“I know that all of the Fort Frances members, like myself, look forward to getting into the new building,” Lucas enthused.
“Throughout my career I've moved into two new facilities and I know that it is a real morale booster for police,” he added.
Bird Construction Inc. has been awarded the contract to design and build all of the nine new OPP detachments.
The construction of the new facility will create somewhere between 25 and 30 new jobs.
While plans of a new detachment here have been in the works for many years, Rickford attributed the inaction on the project to a lack of commitment and funding granted by the former government.
“There was no reason why this couldn't be moved out the door," he said. "It was a lack of a commitment to actually move the project forward,”
"This is the difference that our government is putting on our commitment to Ontario.
“We wanted to send a clear signal to our police that there was going to be no more lollygagging around,” Rickford added.
OPP Sgt. Nathan Schmidt is eager to get into the new facility and made noted of how the force will soon be better equipped to serve the community.
“It's an exciting time for all our members at the Fort Frances detachment,” he enthused.
"This new modern facility will provide us with the necessary infrastructure to be efficient in the delivery of policing services to the citizens and the visitors within the Rainy River District.
“I know I can speak for all the detachment members—that we look forward to the opening day,” Schmidt smiled.