Housing and commercial developments may soon be coming to the former Abitibi mill site on Ninth Street North, ahead of the potential development of a new casino on the property.

Councillors with the City of Kenora gathered for a Special Committee of the Whole meeting on March 29, where they approved the rezoning of the mill’s property into 15 separate lots. Twelve of those lots are now zoned for light industrial commercial use, with three lots set for residential housing units.

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The majority of the 25-hectare property has been vacant since the mill’s shutdown in 2006 with the exception of three existing industrial buildings, which won’t be affected by the new developments.

An internal roadway for the new subdivision has also been proposed.

The city notes that development will be restricted on three of the 15 lots until additional zoning requirements are met, and any future developments will still need to be approved by councillors. One of the 15 lots will need to be accessed through another private road that connects to Ninth Street North.

“There are still other steps to be followed in terms of proceeding with various projects on the site,” explained Director of Corporate Services, Adam Smith. “There are further studies and requirements as it pertains to site plan control.”

While there’s now progress on the remaining lots, there’s been no movement on the casino project.

In an interview with Q104 and KenoraOnline earlier this month, Gateway Casino’s said they ‘have no plans’ to begin construction on the approved $21 million casino in Kenora, as the company looks to increase their revenues and bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before the pandemic, the tentative completion date for Kenora's casino was expected to be in the first quarter of 2022, according to Gateway. The $21 million project aims to build a 23,300 square-foot facility with a 6,200 square-foot gaming floor and 200 slot machines, as well as Gateway’s Match Eatery restaurant.