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Fort Frances to meet with cabinet ministers

By Randy Thoms Jan 18, 2024 | 4:04 PM

Fort Frances Mayor Andrew Hallikas, November 2022. Image: Randy Thoms/Acadia Broadcasting

Mayor Andrew Hallikas heads a Fort Frances council delegation to this year’s Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference in Toronto.

Councillors Wendy Brunetta and John McTaggart and interim Chief Administrative Officer Travis Rob will join him.

They will have four meetings with provincial cabinet ministers.

Hallikas says a meeting with the Solicitor General will focus on policing costs.

“Northern communities, and Fort Frances in particular, tend to have one of the highest rates of costing in the province. So, we want to see what can be done about that,” says Hallikas.

He hopes to come away with a similar reduction received by the city of Kenora when it broached the same subject a while ago.

A separate meeting with the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Vic Fedeli, will talk about establishing a tax incentive zone in Fort Frances.

“We want to be able to try and bolster economic development by being able to give tax incentives. And a lot of that stuff is restricted by the Municipal Act.”

Two issues will be discussed with Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy, including railway taxes.

The town has long lobbied for taxes based on the tonnage hauled as in western Canada rather than for the acreage of land owned.

“Right now, we have the busiest train border crossing at the Rainier bridge in North America, with even more trains slated to come through and longer trains.

As the risk goes up, we feel that they should be paying for the risk just like an insurance company that charges you more when your risk for things go up.”

The council members will also discuss the amount of municipal money received provided to the town.

Fort Frances is receiving $3,447,300 through the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund this year, a drop of about $14,000 from 2023’s allocation.