Thursday, April 17, 2014

Busy Winter For Town Crews

It's been a tough winter on the infrastructure in the town of Fort Frances.

Operations Manager Doug Brown says the number of frozen water lines and cracked water and sewer pipes his crews have had to deal with is the worst he's seen.

Crews have helped thaw more than 250 water lines while digging up another 30 areas to repair cracked pipes.

Brown says he doesn't see an end to the work until there's a significant shift toward warmer weather.

Fewer Moose Hunting Tags This Year

It might be tough to obtain a moose hunting tag in Ontario this year.

The province is reducing the number of adult tags available for this year's draw by 18 per cent.

It says recent aerial surveys show the moose population is on the decline.

The largest tag reductions will occur in the areas with the largest population declines.

New Time Of Use Rates Approved

New time-of-use electricity rates in Ontario kick in May 1.

The Ontario Energy Board has approved a 0.3 cent increase to both the off-peak and mid-peak rates and a 0.6 cent increase in the on-peak rate.

The Energy Board says it will result in a monthly increase of about $2.83 to the average household user.

Onegaming Part Of Energy Conservation Program

Seventeen First Nation Communities have been selected to participate in the Ontario Power Authority's saveONenergy conservation program.
The program is aimed at helping reduce electricity consumption and promote conservation.
Onegaming First Nation is among communities taking part.

Concerns With Plant Conversion Lingering

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is asking the Premier to reveal her government's plan to meet northwestern Ontario's energy needs.

Horwath says concern still lingers about the planned conversion to biomass of the Thunder Bay generating station, even after it burned its last lump of coal.

Critics don't believe the biomass supply for the plant will be large enough to generate the amount of electricity needed in northwestern Ontario.

Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli says a recent meeting determined the planned conversion is doable.

Koochiching County Preparing to Submit Concerns With New Clean Water Act

Koochiching County remains critical of plans to re-write the U.S. Clean Water Act.

The Environmental Protection Agency is redefining where the act applies.

Commissioner Wayne Skoe feels its an end-run around the Legislature.

The County's intends to file its concerns when a public comment period begins.

Osisko Agrees To Friendly Acquisition

Osisko Mining has another ally as it tries to fend off a hostile takeover from Goldcorp.

Agnico Eagle Mines is joining with previously announced Yamana Gold to acquire Osisko, creating a new company called New Osisko.

The deal is valued at about $575-million dollars, well below what's being offered by Goldcorp.

Part of the agreement includes the new company continuing exploration of the Hammond Reef Gold project near Atikokan.

Minnesota Power Seeks Power Line Permits

Minnesota Power is applying for the necessary State and Federal permits for its 500-kilovolt transmission line to bring power from Manitoba to the Iron Range.

The new line is expected to be in place by 2020.

Minnesota Power is still examining potential routes, including cutting through a portion of Koochiching County.

Cost of the project is estimated at between $500 and $650 million.

New Court Information System

A new online service is up and running that helps people find out where and when they need to go to court in Ontario.

It allows users to search for basic information such as court appearances, the names of the parties involved and the time, location and reason for that appearance.

However, court information pertaining to courts in the Rainy River district is not readily available.

New NOACC President

There's a new person at the helm of the Northwestern Ontario Associated Chambers of Commerce.

Thunder Bay's Nathan Lawrence is its new president and want to ensure all chambers are working together on future projects.

Lawrence believes all the chambers should be allowed to voice their concerns and opinions on issues critical to them.

Large Construction Boom Predicted

A new study is predicting big things for the construction industry in northwestern Ontario.

Madge Richardson with the North Superior Workforce Planning Board says a large number of construction projects will result in the need for a lot of workers.

At least $7-billion dollars worth of work is expected over the next five years.

Richardson says an estimated 12-hundred new jobs will be created as a result of projects in the mining, forestry and road building sectors

Invites In The Mail

The invites are being sent out to key representatives in the health field to attend a meeting in Fort Frances this summer.

Fort Frances councillor Rick Wiedenhoeft says a joint meeting involving International Falls is being organized in hopes it will lead to a sharing of medical services.

The invites are being sent to a variety of individuals at the provincial, state and federal levels.

Taxing District Proposed

Koochiching County will hold a meeting next month to consider a taxing district to cover a million dollar upgrade to Littlefork Medical Centre.

The proposal calls for the County to loan money to city of Littlefork, who owns the facility, with it repaying the County interest free over a 10 year period.

The Centre's Chief Administrator Mike Anderson says replacing the IT system is one of the critical needs.

Roof replacements and a new boiler are also needed.

Littlefork Mayor Mike Fort says creating the taxing district is really the best option available.

Fort says they are pursuing other revenue sources for other improvements at the Centre, totaling over $3-million.