The chairman of the Rainy River Future Development Corp. made it clear to councillors he wants to see Fort Frances back on board for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts next month.
“We need your support, as well as all the communities in the district, if we’re going to do the best for the Rainy River Valley,” Bruce Holmlund stressed at Monday’s committee of the whole meeting.
“We must become more jointly co-operative and jointly focused,” he stressed.
RRFDC director Jim Cumming said it would continue to function if the town pulled its annual payment of $60,000 although it would be much more restricted in what it could do.
The town is looking at a recommendation by its economic development committee to handle its own economic development, something Mayor Glenn Witherspoon said could cost anywhere from $150,000-$175,000.
To stay with the RRFDC, the town would have to keep paying its $7 per capita fee, totalling about $60,000.
“Really, think seriously about this, going on your own,” stressed RRFDC vice-chair Telford Advent, who noted the RRFDC has given about 700 hours a year for the last three years to Fort Frances-related projects—with 51 percent of all investment activity happening in town.
Advent also argued Fort Frances benefits from a strong district since it is the main service centre. He also noted the marketing videos being put together by the RRFDC’s marketing committee is one of the few tools which advertise the Rainy Lake area.
“We have to market ourselves together,” he stressed. “Because everything doesn’t come to Fort Frances. Some say we’re not getting the dollars out of the investment, but that’s not the way it is.
“If we all don’t work together, it just won’t work,” he said. “Where we’re strong is if we can put it all together.”
But the fact not all nine district municipalities are in on the per capita scheme is at the core of what’s bothering Fort Frances, said Bill Gushulak, who chairs the town’s economic development committee
Gushulak agreed the RRFDC has done “many positive things” for the town and district, and that if the town forms its own EDO, both entities would work closely together.
“At the same time, it is a matter of everybody coming on board together,” he said. “It’s strictly the matter of sending a message out to the rest of the people that they should be spending.”
But Holmlund doesn’t feel that way.
“I personally, as a taxpayer, feel it’s a waste of taxpayer dollars,” he countered. “Why invent a new wheel while we have one in place?”
Mayor Witherspoon said the final decision on what the town will do with its economic development dollars should come in the next two weeks as it wraps up the budget process for 2000.
“We do have a big decision to make,” he conceded.