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Town moving on to design process for market square


With work on the Rainy Lake Hotel demolition nearing an end, town council has agreed to complete a request for proposals for the selection of an architecture firm to move ahead with the second phase of the project.

The selected firm will complete a public consultation and drawings in preparation for the construction of a market square at the hotel site.

“The next stage of this project is going to be the design phase,” Chief Building Official Travis Rob said at Monday night’s council meeting.

“We’ll put out a request for proposals for an architecture firm to complete a final design for the development phase of this project, which will be taking place this next spring and summer,” he explained.

“Part of that project will be retaining some public consultations to discuss with downtown stakeholders and the public as to exactly what the final site will look like,” Rob added.

“When that’s complete, we’ll be completing a tender for that construction.

“As I had mentioned, we intend to have that construction started next spring and carry through that summer,” Rob said.

Meanwhile, work at the demolition site is nearing completion.

JMX Contracting intended to have backfilled the basement today, weather-permitting.

After that is complete, they’ll have a subcontractor come in and do site servicing during the first or second week of November.

Rob noted the existing sewer service for the site came off the rear of the building and one of the neighbouring properties tied into it.

A new sanitary service main will be put in off Scott Street—tying in the neighbouring building and also leaving the town a sewer line for future development.

The site servicing probably will require a very short shutdown of Scott Street to facilitate the process.

There also has to be siding work done on the two adjacent buildings (Brockie’s Jewellers and Causeway Insurance).

Rob noted that on Oct. 21, the Ministry of Labour attended the site, completed an inspection, and found no issues with the work taking place there.

“As well, I received word today [Monday] that all our air quality tests to date have come back clean, which is great,” he added.

Anyone who’s watched the hotel come down can see that it’s gone without a hitch, noted Fort Frances CAO Mark McCaig.

“I think that spoke to the planning that was done ahead by Travis,” he said. “Travis has done an excellent job of project management.

“And we had a pretty good firm that had come in,” McCaig added. “They used some local people, as well, which really appreciated.

“This job went along really well.”

McCaig stressed the decision to demolish the Rainy Lake Hotel was made after years of discussion and offering the building for sale—and nobody came forward.

“After that amount of time and after public consultation, we got to a point where we decided we were going to develop a market square,” he explained.

“When we applied for the funding, the funding was granted primarily on the basis of developing a market square, it wasn’t for demolition of a building,” McCaig noted.

“So the demolition’s been completed and now we’re getting to the real nuts and bolts of the project.”

Contrary to some rumours in the community, there hasn’t been a decision made as to exactly what the Rainy Lake Market Square will look like, McCaig said.

“There’s been some conceptual drawings that were utilized for the purposes of grant submissions; what something may look like,” he remarked.

Now the town is going to get down to “brass tacks” and consult with all the relevant stakeholders, as well as give the public the opportunity to provide input.

“And we’re going to get something that hopefully the whole community can be proud of and participate in if they want,” enthused McCaig.

McCaig also noted that, contrary to urban legend, there were no rats in the old Rainy Lake Hotel.

“I had heard that there was a Biblical-type swarm of rats coming out onto the street,” he noted.

“But there was no food source,” he added. “The contractor said there’s nothing for them to eat.

“And there’s no evidence of rats being in there.

“So people can sleep good at night. There wasn’t an impending plague coming our way,” McCaig concluded.

Deputy mayor June Caul thanked Rob for doing such an efficient job planning this stage of the project, and is confident he’ll continue to do the same in the second phase.

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