It’s election season in northwestern Ontario!

Q104, KenoraOnline and DrydenNow asked each Council and Mayor candidate for their thoughts on a variety of issues in the community and we'll be running a series of articles with candidates’ responses.

#1 – How would you like to see the community’s housing shortage addressed? Would you further support social housing under the KDSB? Advocate for commercial developments? Other proposals?

- Andrew Poirier
Our community requires new housing starts right across the Housing Continuum. Besides the housing builds happening through the social housing lenses, a new senior build of 56 units will be announced later in the week of October 10th. This is the first such project for seniors since 1987.

The private sector is busy and will continue to be moving forward on the housing file. The old Northlands property on Matheson Street South is a private development, including 16 senior apartments. Developments on the old Mill Property will include not only apartments and townhouses, but commercial development throughout the property.

There are many other housing developments slated for our community in 2023. Over the last four years, 79 single-family dwellings have been constructed or are in process, along with a multi-unit apartment building which is fully occupied. We are moving in the right direction to address the housing shortage and create new assessment and tax levies for the City of Kenora.”

- Sharon Smith
Continue the good work of this Council. 360 new housing units built or in the process of being built. Another 130 are in the planning stage. Total new units – 490.

Council should continue to work with private developers and the KDSB to improve this record. Rezoning, extension of water/wasterwater, the Capital Facilities Bylaw that provides incentives for affordable housing are some of the tools Council uses to support building development.”

- Mort Goss
“I would ‘keep my foot on the gas’, and follow through on housing plans that are just now coming to fruition. There are several projects in construction, some about to begin in the next month.

Some are KDSB builds, (54 unit seniors build in Lakeside, 30 unit supportive housing near the Armouries), but the bulk of the new planned projects are private development: 20 unit affordable housing on Northland site, 90 units on former mill property, 80 units on Valley Drive and two other developments that are in the works.

We need more rental properties in apartment buildings, close to city services, and to make them efficient we need to densify our near downtown living spaces, and make the city core vibrant again.”

- Kelsie Van Belleghem
“Municipalities do not build houses, municipalities build the infrastructure and develop and review the zoning by-laws to enable, or deter development. How a city sets up this infrastructure and these by-laws will determine who will/can build and what will be built.

Kenora needs to make sure that it has the proper infrastructure to support development, and zoning by-laws that do not create unnecessary barriers to development, and in fact promote creative and sustainable development at all levels of the income spectrum.”

- Lisa Moncrief
“Municipalities have tools and incentives available to encourage housing development that are not being used.

Recently, there have been permits sought, permits issued, developments announced and building starts but residents haven’t been provided with an accurate picture of who those new builds serve (social, seniors, custodial, supportive, supported or general) and in which demographic the deficit remains.

The KDSB is filling gaps but it has been done with little consideration for existing residents.  This needs to be corrected and prevented in future.  Vulnerable seniors should not be afraid to use shared spaces in their buildings, including hallways, common rooms, outdoor spaces, etc.”

- Mark Perrault
“I support the KDSB housing strategy and applaud them for their newly announced partnership with Grand Council Treaty 3. Our housing problems stem from a lack of housing and economic growth in our area First Nations.

An urban reserve along the 17A corridor to allow remote first nations economic development and housing. A large college with student housing. CAMH North with housing for long-term patients and caregivers and a Masters in Psychology program with grad student housing.

An investment in garage-size housing for in partnership with chamber of commerce members, city and private property owners to provide housing for current employees and new hires. The new hospital [should] have a large apartment building included for independent living, caregiver apartments and housing for locums and nursing students.”

- Joel McGrath
"There is definitely a need for new housing of all kinds in Kenora. As a City Councillor I would advocate for streamlining the building process to overcome cumbersome city and provincial regulations. We should form a Kenora Builds task force to promote housing construction here."

- Mark LaBelle
“I would like to see this council engaging with housing support groups on a regular basis. I believe a regular dialogue will keep counsel informed as to the immediate needs of these groups.

I would support KDSB If they are creating new structures for social housing. I am not in favour of them taking from the senior housing pool to house Younger social needs. I am for any commercial development which will add to the job and the housing markets and make our community more vibrant.”

- Lindsay Koch
“Seniors Housing is one way to open up homes in the community and support them as they age and have changing needs and lifestyles.

I do support social housing; I think it’s an important piece of the continuum, but private development is needed alongside that for those who do not wish to live in multi-unit dwellings with subsidized portions, and it is needed to increase our tax base.”

- Chris Poate
“I think that the housing shortage is currently being addressed adequately by the KDSB, and also by the Aboriginal Housing Services in their building of 30 units near the Armory to serve a "transition from homelessness" function. I would support further housing initiatives by the KDSB.

Commercial developments must be financed by those doing the development, but I would be in favour of City Council helping to make this type of investment attractive to those who want to invest in our City's housing inventory.  KDSB is also tendering the construction of 56 Senior apartments.  This should help to free up the availability of reasonably priced private homes.”

Every candidate was asked for their responses to five questions related to issues in the community. As of the time of publishing, we did not receive responses from Louis Roussin, Cecile Marcino, Logan Haney, Barbara Manson, Graham Chaze, Bob Bernie, Andy Scribilo, David Byers-Kitt.

Advanced voting is underway in Kenora and voting begins in Dryden on October 14. The Municipal election will wrap up on October 24.