News — 30 January 2018

Published January 17, 2018

BY JENNIFER PARSONS

Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services (OAHS) is seeking public input into plans to develop “Block G” after the purchase of the land parcel was finalized at the end of November.

Acting Director Justin Marchand confirmed in an interview last week his organization is working with the Municipality to rezone more than five kilometres located to the west of Pine Crescent.

“OAHS has been in discussions with the Municipality of Red Lake for quite a few years looking for mutual opportunities,” said Marchand on Jan 11. “The [municipality] has recognized the need for affordable housing as we have as well.”

OAHS currently owns and property manages over 30 rental units in the Red Lake District, eight classified as discount-to-market rent and 24 three bedroom units that are geared to income.

Marchand says the land purchased last year is earmarked for a series of housing initiatives, however, the details are still be worked out.

“Some of the things we are looking at in the near-term are developing some low density, affordable rental town houses. We are also starting discussions around more supportive housing possibly for Indigenous seniors and Elders… because of the size of the property, there may be an opportunity to develop a mix of single-family home-ownership homes as well. We really want to take a mixed community approach to making sure we have a variety of different housing options.”

He says projects will be contingent on funding, however the organization is hopeful that some units will be completed in the 2019 construction season adding that the organization is looking to the community to tell them what they think the community needs are.

“Red Lake has been one of the most positive municipalities for us to work with. We would like to get residents feedback on what they would like to see and what they think the needs are.”

OAHS is mandated to provide safe and affordable housing to urban and rural First Nations, Inuit and Metis people living off-Reserve in Ontario. Marchand says in Red Lake the organization has zero vacancies, a large waiting list and has a 50 per cent tenant base that is non-Indigenous.

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Jennifer Parsons

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