Rainy Lake Hotel

The head of the business improvement area in Fort Frances thinks the downtown looks like a war zone to visitors. Douglas Anderson says the crumbling Rainy Lake Hotel is the first thing people see when they drive through. The vacant building has fallen apart over the past 10 years. Most of the windows are boarded up and parts of the roof have caved in. (hpd.mcl.gov.on.ca)

Another northwestern Ontario community is wrestling with how to deal with a historic but decayed building.

The head of the Fort Frances downtown Business Improvement Area says the town needs provincial dollars to help deal with the Rainy Lake Hotel.

The landmark structure has stood vacant for the last decade because the town can't afford to tear it down, Douglas Anderson says.

“I think there has to be some people from the senior members of government [who] have to kind of say, 'We can help you find the cash for the town’.”

Anderson said he would like to see a temporary green space on the property that the town could eventually divide into smaller plots, making it easier to sell to developers.

Feels like 'being in a war zone'

The crumbling Rainy Lake Hotel is the first thing visitors see when they drive through town, Anderson noted.

The vacant building has fallen apart over the past 10 year. Most of the windows are boarded up and parts of the roof have caved in.

“Who knows who's riding in that car [as they enter town]? It might be an investor. It might be a person who's thinking about being a doctor here,” Anderson said.

“They see that and it might be one of their last images they see before they drive home.”

Anderson said people are even complaining about the odour coming from the decaying building when they walk past.

He said he hopes town council can put aside money in its next budget to demolish the historic hotel.  Money to demolish the building was written into the budget for this past year, but the town ran into some trouble and had to spend the money elsewhere.

Finding money to deal with the building is imperative, Anderson noted.

"We're an entrance point into Canada. We're right on the border. When people come across they have the feeling of being in a war zone."