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Brandon Sun (Newspaper) - June 26, 2002, Brandon, Manitoba A3 WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26, 2002 Local GOT A NEWS TIP? You can reach us at 571-7430 or toll-free 1-877-786-5786 E-mail: opinioti(abrandonsun.comForman decision hits Rivers hard By Shelley Vivian Brandon Sun A decision by Forman Motors not to rebuild after a winter fire is the latest blow to a community that has lost a string of businesses over the last few years. The permanent loss of the car dealership will have a devastating impact on Rivers, predicts town administrator Dennis Higginson. “I think the whole community at heart is going to suffer tremendously over this loss because not only have we lost Forman Motors here just a while ago, we also of course lost our hotel a couple of years ago,” Higginson says. “It’s just been sort of sliding downhill a little bit.” Fire wiped out the dealership Feb. 2. Investigators determined it was accidental, likely caused by a short in an electrical panel. Brian Carlisle, co-owner of Forman Motors, says he and partner Don Ramsey have concluded it would be too difficult to rebuild in Rivers without more support from Ford. Like other corporations that have left Rivers, including Cargill and Royal Bank, Ford is not intent on maintaining a strong presence in smaller communities, he says. Carlisle says he and Ramsey are not rebuilding elsewhere and will use the summer to ponder their long-range plans. While no other business is moving into the dealership lot now, Carlisle says he’s close to wrapping up a deal with a company wanting to open an auto mobile repair shop on another piece of Forman Motors property in Rivers. He won’t give further details. Rivers is a community of 1,870 about 40 kilometres northwest of Brandon. Across the street from the old Forman Motors dealership in town is a vacant lot where the Rivers Inn once stood. It was also destroyed by fire and never rebuilt. It’s a corporate attitude that’s tough to counter, Higginson says. When any business leaves, it affects other businesses, he says. Forman Motors brought people into Rivers from a wide region of southwestern Manitoba. “It’s something council really has to sit down and digest and say, ‘OK, what are we going to do? How are we going to get people to our community?”’ he says. “Maybe it’s through recreation or other forms of entertainment for people.” Rivers Mayor Roy Stevenson and Deputy Mayor Lloyd Fehr could not be reached yesterday. Wayne Wareham, owner of Way-Mor Agencies in Rivers, which sells vehicle insurance, expects the effect on his business to be huge. “It’s really going to impact our business as it will many others, I think ... Of course, people would buy vehicles there and buy Autopac from us,” he says. Wareham says the number of businesses leaving Rivers is worrisome. “It seems to be happening more and more frequently.” COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN Len Hiebert wanted to develop his property into a four-suite property from its present three, but was refused by council. Council decides variation request too suite for core By Rod Nickel Brandon Sun A landlord is cancelling plans to fix up a large house in the core after neighbours, a government-funded corporation, a citizens association and Brandon East MLA Drew Caldwell objected to him adding one suite. City council agreed after lengthy debate, rejecting Len Hiebert’s variation request. “I feel it was a bit of a slap,” he says. “But at the same time, I can see it was the principle of the thing.” The principle is a 1999 decision to change Brandon’s zoning bylaw to limit the number of units in low-density residential areas of Rosser ward. Supporters of that shift say restricting housing density encourages families to live in the core in owner-occupied homes. “lf you up-zone here and up-zone there, the whole plan is shot,” says June Jones, president of Rosser Ward Citizens Association. In this case, sticking to a principle has stopped the landlord from fixing up a house that all agree needs work. The fourth unit would have made renovations affordable, Hiebert says. Now he’s looking to sell. The Neighbourhood Renewal Corp., whose mandate is to revitalize core neighbourhoods and Caldwell stand against Hiebert’s plan. In a letter to city council, Caldwell wntes that the city’s flirtation with allowing an additional unit is “an insult” to citizens who fought to lower housing density in the core. He takes aim at a city committee that recommended approval. “.. . The development review committee has virtually declared itself to be the enemy of citizens interested in promoting longterm residential stability and residential neighbourhood renewal in downtown Brandon.” But Rosser ward resident Beverly Hicks says Brandon needs more affordable rental units. “If we keep pushing people who need to rent, where are we pushing them to?” Jaci Skelton says aboriginal people arrive for classes in Brandon and need affordable suites. “We have to make sure we’re not being white only in our decisions.” Council defeated a resolution to allow the fourth unit 6-5. “People are confident to put money into their places,” says Rosser councillor Marion Robinsong. “They’re confident that council will stick with the plan.” Other areas of Rosser ward are zoned for high-density housing. Homes that had more than four suites prior to 1999 weren’t required to down-size when the change took effect. COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN Patrick Doohan, district manager for Farm Credit Canada, smiles during an open house yesterday morning in Brandon.FCC thanks growing clientele By Kyia Duncan Brandon Sun Farm Credit Canada is celebrating its growing success. Pat Doohan, district manager, says the organization, owned by the federal government, has seen an increase in its customer base by five to IO per cent over the last several years. He was busy shaking hands of current and potential customers at an open house yesterday. “For the most part our growth has been pretty consistent over the last four or five years,” Doohan says. Farm Credit Canada has a customer base of 4,000 in Manitoba — 2,600 in the Brandon district. Doohan credits much of the organization’s success to its specialized farming programs. “Our focus is agriculture — that’s all we do ... if our customers are successful, then we are successful.’’ The payment-defer program in 1999 let farmers experiencing flooding problems defer a mortgage payment. “We have had a lot of customers come back and do business with us, instead of going and doing business somewhere else ... And I think more people are really starting to notice FCC.” The Victoria Avenue office has been expanded with a board room, along with three additional staff positions to accommo date customers. “We didn’t have a meeting room before — but now we do a lot of focus groups. We get our customers to tell us what they want,” Doohan says. Brandon Mayor Reg Atkinson, at yesterday’s open house, told about 30 people Farm Credit Canada is an important part of local agriculture. “Brandon is very proud to be the hub of agriculture and the FCC plays a big part in that.” It has been in Brandon since its inception in 1959 and holds $160 million in portfolios.City wants to offer thanks to Shilo soldiers By Kyia Duncan Brandon Sun Brandon residents are being asked to show support for returning CFB Shiio troops this summer. “We’re aiming at trying to get people to put up ribbons everywhere ... even if they make a welcome-back sign and put it in their windows, that would be great," says Sandy Trudel, Economic Development Brandon co-ordinator. Citizens are encouraged to decorate offices, businesses, home and street corners with yellow ribbons and signs. Canadian troops are expected to return home from the War on Terrorism in July. Trudel says the idea of holding a yellow-ribbon campaign belongs to a couple of citizens, but the city wants to spread the word. She says she’s hoping Brandon feels like a welcoming place to returning troops. “The soldiers had a stressful time in Afghanistan. They were there for what could have been a war. It’s because of their efforts that we can enjoy the freedoms we have,” Trudel. says. “We’re hoping the city looks like one big, welcoming, yellow place.”In BriefUnits for poor coming A rebuilt apartment block at 1202 Rosser Ave. will offer 26 units for low-income tenants and three units for homeless people. Canadian Mental Health Association is converting the building which has stood empty since health officials ordered it closed six years ago. City council has approved a parking variation for the project, allowing 13 off-site parking spaces instead of 44. Association regional manager Glen Kruck says most of the tenants won’t own vehicles and those who do can park at the CMHC Re-Store a block away.Action plan awaits City council will wait a little longer before giving its input to a long-term economic development action plan. City manager Glen Laubenstein says council could vote in August on adopting timelines for implementing 47 recommendations of the plan by Corporate Affairs International. Recommendations include tapping the aboriginal labour pool, developing a new city image and reorganizing tourism promotion efforts.Lumberyard planned A Winnipeg company plans to open a wholesale lumberyard at 1850-18th Street N., near United Furniture Warehouse. Superior Distributors received approval of a conditional use order. Manager Tony Matic says Brandon’s growing population, including plans for a Winnipeg infantry unit to move to western Manitoba, attracted the company here. Coincidentally, increasing competition in the building supply industry is a recommendation within the recently released economic action plan for Brandon.Casino up for discussion What do you think of the city’s decision to move toward urban reserve negotiations with Sioux Valley Dakota Nation? You will have a chance to air your views tonight in a public meeting at East End Community Centre. Riverview Coun. Errol Black says all members of the public are welcome, not just ward residents. They’ll discuss the casino, the Keystone Centre’s new board of directors and changes to the Transit system. The meeting starts at 7.City will help MSHL land event Taxpayer dollars will help the Manitoba Semor Baseball League bid for the 2004 Canadian National Senior AAA Baseball Championships. City council has approved a $50,000 repayable loan for the league, contingent on it being selected to host the event. The loan would make up most of the championship’s $73,500 budget. Ticket sales make up the balance of revenue. “Surrounding communities in the past have supported national and international events,” says MSBL president Barry Wowk. Ten teams, one from each province, would take part. A site is expected to be chosen by Oct. 30. The tournament would be held over six days at Kinsmen and Westbran stadiums. Brandon hosted the event in 1977. Manitoba hasn’t hosted it since 1981.Discovery Centre hosts Memory Walk More than IOO people are expected to lace up shoes and take a Memory Walk for the Alzheimer Society in Brandon tonight. The 11th annual walk takes place at the Riverbank Discovery Centre with money raised staymg in Westman to provide services to those affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Walkers will finish either a 30-minute or 60-minute route dunng the event, which is one of the largest fundraisers for th*1 organization. The walk begins at 6 p.m. A barbecue and registration will be held from 5 to 6. Patti Johnson, fund development co-ordmator with the society in Brandon, says the walk will feature the local debut of a new mascot. “Tracker is a big running shoe. They wanted to lighten up the image of the Alzheimer Society a bit,” says Johnson.Green Dodge Neon stolen City police are investigating a car theft from the 00-block of Willowdale Crescent Monday afternoon. The vehicle is a dark green 1995 Dodge Neon, Manitoba licence DCR 662.Eleetrieal problem sparks fire Fire inspectors are investigating a fire that caused extensive damage to a garage in the 900-block of Rosser Avenue late Monday. An initial investigation suggests the fire was sparked by an electrical problem.School jumping with joy George Fitton school celebrates two decades of Jump Rope for Heart this morning. The school is commemorating 20 years of participation in the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba program, through which it has raised $75,000 to help rn the fight against heart disease and stroke. Kern Lynn Gudz, rural fund development manager with the foundation, says the program not only raises much-needed funds, it teaches young people heart health and a sense of community. Money raised by students jumping rope goes towards research and promotion of heart health. —Brandon Sun ;