As northern communities feel the pressure to build more housing to attract families and skilled workers, the Town of Cochrane is working on an incentive program that it hopes will turn some heads.
Mayor Peter Politis told CTV News that town council has cleared the selling of land at extreme discounts.
“We can go as low as $10 a property,” Politis said in an interview.
The incentive program would also offer to waive property taxes on new homes for a certain period of time.
Details on the program are still being discussed, Politis said.
Seeing major growth potential for the town, the mayor said industries need of workers and there’s an opportunity to help young families achieve the “Canadian dream” of homeownership
“The youth … who are just resolved to the fact that they’ll never own a home,” said Politis. “What we’re doing here, with the program that we’re putting in place, is messaging to people — not only can you and will you own a home here … but you can also raise your family in what is the greatest way of life, in the best backyard on the planet.
As northern communities feel the pressure to build more housing to attract families and skilled workers, the Town of Cochrane is working on an incentive program that it hopes will turn some heads: land for as little as $10. (Photo from video)
“What we want to do is provide (them) a leg up on the ability to do that.”
The town of Smooth Rock Falls, just north of Cochrane, made national headlines for selling land for $500 since 2017.
Politis said Cochrane’s program would go further, with property tax incentives, but noting that this is part of a larger effort to promote the Highway 11 corridor and grow the region.
The president of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities, Danny Whalen, said new housing initiatives are welcome in the region and that most municipalities are either working on or open to housing development plans.
COULD BE RISKY
He warns, however, that forgoing revenue, albeit temporarily, for potential long-term gain can be risky.
“The No. 1 reason for looking for growth is to enhance your community and enhance your municipal coffers,” Whalen said in an interview.
“But if you’re using your municipal coffers to enhance them, then your return on investment is years down the road.”
Whalen went on to say that communities should ensure they’re financially stable enough to withstand the extra demand for services, until they can access the extra revenue from property taxes.
It also needs to manage the impact on existing taxpayers.
“If you have a couple that have spent the last 30 years in their home, within your municipality, they’ve paid for their own infrastructure,” said Whalen.
“Now, they’re being asked to pay, so somebody else doesn’t have to pay for their infrastructure. So, you need a good financial strategy and you need a good communication plan for your current residents.”
Politis said the intention is to grow his community for everyone’s benefit, including the existing population.
Local industries want employees to be able to live where they work, he said, and so the goal is to take advantage of that demand.
“(Once) we start marketing and driving the direction, the lots are going to go very quick,” Politis said.
The town is expected to finalize its new housing incentive program next month, he said, with the hope of launching it in January of next year.