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Future of tourism examined

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Tonight’s council meeting will shed some light on how tourism might evolve in Fort Frances.

There are two presentations scheduled for tonight’s council meeting that will have an impact on tourism and other facets of life in town in the years to come. The first presentation will be from HTFC Planning & Design, the company that has been hired to consult on the future use Shevlin Woodyard and redevelopment of the Gateway to Fort Frances. The company has been working on the project since earlier this year, having held a public visioning workshop at La Place Rendez-Vous in February and an online survey in order to assess the needs of the town and what residents would like to see implemented in both spaces.

The presentation tonight will include breakdowns of the information gathered by the consultants, as well as concepts for each location that have been drawn up using the input received. One of the breakdowns provided in an accompanying report from HTFC reveals that the top three land uses for the Shevlin Woodyard that were suggested by the public are for tourism, green space and residential/recreational, with the public identifying the top opportunities for the Gateway to Fort Frances as the promotion of tourist attractions and amenities, clearer wayfinding and welcoming signage and branding.

The consultants have prepared one concept for the Gateway to Fort Frances project and two concepts for the Shevlin redevelopment. Some of the ideas that will be presented include roadway and intersection improvements for the Gateway to Fort Frances project, and the possibility of building a hotel, apartment buildings, townhouses and other commercial spaces like a conference centre or a brew pub with attached patio.

The presentation will precede a pair of webinars set to take place this week for the public to take part in regarding the concepts. The webinars are scheduled for Tuesday, May 26 at 10:00 a.m. and Wednesday, May 27 at 7:00 p.m. and the public can register to take part in the session of their choice.

The second presentation scheduled for tonight’s meeting involves a tourism development and marketing plan completed by Rynic Consulting, which will be given to council by Tannis Drysdale. The report identifies that “tourism sector development in Fort Frances is a key diversification strategy amidst a repositioning of the Fort Frances economy post-mill closure” and outlines four objectives in the development plan and marketing. The first objective is to “Nuture Experiences” by creating a set of experiential activities leveraging natural resources, such as highlighting the area as a fishing destination, or developing “learn-to guided food experiences.” The second objective is to “drive accommodation occupancy rates” to increase the number of people who are in Fort Frances during any given season. The third objective is to enhance the atmosphere for tourism growth by providing more opportunities for people who come to Fort Frances and the fourth is to sell Fort Frances and implement a core product marketing/advertising program.

The plan will have both short and long-term goals in order to drive tourism in the area.

Also on tonight’s agenda is a public meeting regarding a zoning and official plan amendment for the 800 block of Scott St. The plan proposes a change to 814/820 Scott St. the current location of the former Dough & Deli, from commercial to residential space, including a change in designation from Employment Area to Living Area. Members of the public who are interested in making an oral submission at the Public Meeting to make comments, identify issues and provide additional information relative to the proposed amendment are asked to submit a written outline to the Town Clerk.

Tonight’s regular council meeting will follow the committee of the whole meeting, which gets underway at 5:30 p.m. Go to the town’s website for a link to the Microsoft Teams meeting.

According to the agenda, there are no in-camera items to be discussed by council following the public portion of the meeting.

Other business on the agenda tonight includes:

  • the town’s COVID-19 update
  • a verbal update on Capital Projects
  • Chief Building Official request for Delegation of Authority to enter into Agreements - Contractual Building Permits
  • information correspondence: Town of Fort Erie resolution re: Canada/US Border Crossings - Essential Traffic Only - COVID-19
  • information correspondence: City of Cambridge resolution re: Provincial Funding for Rehabilitation Facilities
  • information correspondence: City of Kitchener resolution re: Universal Basic Income
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