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Town moving ahead with street closures

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 Following a public meeting Monday evening, town council passed a bylaw to assume, dedicate as a public thoroughfare, stop up, close, and sell a part of Sinclair Street and a part of Portage Avenue.    These closures specifically pertain to the stretch of Sinclair from Victoria Avenue to Portage, and the portion of Portage from Nelson Street to Sinclair, and are necessary to the plans for the biomass boiler being built in that area.    The town had notified area property owners about the public meeting and its intent to close and sell off the properties.    A small group of representatives from St. Mary’s Church showed up for the meeting to speak in favour of the closures, including Georges Blanc, chair of St. Mary’s financial council, St. Mary’s expansion project manager Bob Mitchelson, Fr. Francis Puddicherry, and fundraising co-chairs Leon and Shelly DeGagne.    “Let me relate how elated we are, as are other members of the community, with the project that’s unfolding behind our church,” said Blanc.    “I think it’s a wonderful sign of stability in our town and I really congratulate the local team at Abitibi-Consolidated for having put this together.    “It’s wonderful to see this growth and this stability coming to the town,” he added.    “Our concerns, obviously, were with the traffic situation and the impact it will have on St. Mary’s Church. We’re sort of becoming a little island surrounded by truck routes,” explained Blanc.    “Just to allay your fears, I’m pleased to report we had some very productive meetings with Abitibi-Consolidated and also with members of the administration.    “I’d like to thank Mark McCaig, Faye Flatt, and Glenn Treftlin for their efforts in assisting us in working some of these things out.    “I’d like to report that, for the most part, all of the issues we had have been resolved,” Blanc continued. “There’s a few issues pending that I’ve got assurances from both the town and Abitibi will be addressed, I think, to our satisfaction.    “Basically, we’ve got no opposition to what you’re proposing.”    Blanc noted the $1.4-million expansion project at St. Mary’s should be “under construction soon,” and will consist of a gathering space, offices for the priest and staff, and a small meeting room, as well as renovations to the existing hall in basement of the church.    “We’re looking at starting the hall in the next couple of weeks,” Mitchelson confirmed in an interview yesterday. “And we’ll be starting the new construction probably in the beginning of August.”    Some of the prep work has included on-site drilling to determine what the water levels were in the ground in anticipation of installing an elevator at the southeast corner of the church.    The hall is scheduled for completion by Sept. 15 while the gathering place, offices, and meeting room hopefully will be done by the end of December.(Fort Frances Times)

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