The provincial government says they’re working to reduce red tape to bolster the construction of new homes across Ontario – with a goal of 1.5 million new homes over the next decade.

Ontario’s new More Homes Built Faster Act, if passed, aims to address the provincial housing crisis by building 1.5 million new homes and apartment units by 2032 – including a mix of ownership and rental options.

“The More Homes Built Faster Act will unlock more attainable housing solutions for the people of Kenora – Rainy River, giving them the foundation they need to thrive right here in our communities,” says Kenora-Rainy River MPP Greg Rickford.

The Minister notes that all regions of Ontario will be considered for the act, including the north.

“The Northwest is bursting with opportunity and, in order to remain competitive, we need to be able to build more places for newcomers, young families, and seniors to call home,” adds Rickford, who also serves as Ontario’s Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs.

As well, the non-resident speculation tax rate will jump 5 per cent to deter non-resident investors, Ontario says they’ll freeze and reduce new home construction fees, and the government says they will increase consumer protection measures for home buyers.

However, there are a few catches for municipal governments. If the act is passed as is, municipalities could lose millions in waived fees, they won’t have any say in the exterior design of the building and Ontario is cutting requirements for nearby parkland by 50 per cent.

Housing was a major hot topic during the 2022 Municipal Election campaign, with many saying the region needs to work to remove red tape and make things easier for developers to come and build more homes and apartment units in northwestern Ontario.

In saying that, a few developments do seem to be shaping up throughout the region.

In Kenora, the Kenora District Services Board continues to make progress on a 20-unit build on Matheson Street, a 56-unit seniors facility in Lakeside and a 16-unit facility on the former Northlands property, as well as the 30-units on Ninth Street North in partnership with Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services.

In Dryden, the KDSB also plans to build supportive housing units and seniors units on Orvis Street, with more seniors units planned for Arthur Street.

Elsewhere, the Kenora District Services Board, Rainy River District Services Board and Grand Council Treat #3 have partnered together and signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work to improve housing and education programming across the region.

Grand Council Treaty #3 says it’s vital as their communities continue to face many housing pressures, including a lack of affordable housing, homelessness and inadequate housing conditions.

The KDSB adds in 2014, they had about 400 families waiting for affordable housing in the district. By 2022, that number had grown to over 1,300 families. Overall, the KDSB says the need for housing has increased by about 350 per cent over the last decade.