The City of Kenora held a special meeting yesterday to go over the Keewatin Community Improvement Plan.

Planning administrator Tara Rickaby, has been working with the Keewatin Working Group and she says everyone's excited about the future of Keewatin.

"Excellent feedback fully engaged. The whole committee that's started everything we've received some comments in writing from them and they'll form part of the final documents as well. Everybody's excited. It's really created a buzz I think and Keewatin is feeling like they own it and that is part of it. We wanted it to be a community built improvement plan and it certainly is," she said.

Nadia De Santi from Fotenn Planning and Urban Design traveled to Kenora to give the presentation. The focus of the CIP will be affordable housing, streetscape improvements, facade improvements and brownfield redevelopment. Rickaby talks more about beautification.

"The best example is to go downtown and look and see what a difference that makes. We started with a few applications for improvements and now we've had tremendous uptake on that. Then when the city has to do infrastructure improvements we have that to apply for other levels of funding. Then we get to see trees and sitting areas and that sort of thing. So it depends on what Keewatin wants to do," she said.

One of the big things they'll also be looking into is affordable housing.

"We're looking at offering incentives to do that. Affordable housing is different from publicly funded housing. It is something that we're looking at private developers coming in and creating smaller living units. We're also looking at mixed units so having commercial use below," she said.

This drew some criticism from people in the audience who feared it would create more of a slum atmosphere. However, Rickaby emphasizes that affordable housing is not the same as government funded housing.

Fay Clark was one of the residents who is excited about the direction that Keewatin is heading. She also had two recommendations for council.

"People are starting to embrace the housing first approach and included in that is mixed housing and community spaces. That way people can go somewhere to meet and greet to have that out so that they are not feeling trapped in that location. It also ensures that a sense of community is built within Keewatin so people want to live there," she said.

Clark also wants to see transportation improved so that residents have the option to travel into town and vice versa where people can travel into Keewatin.

City council will now look to adopt the final version of the Keewatin CIP in June.

For more information:
Kenora to hold public meeting on Keewatin CIP
Keewatin CIP - online