Cochrane plans to sell lots for as low as $10 in hopes of bringing more people to town.
The municipality held a special council meeting recently to discuss the topic and ultimately adopted the concept of providing discounted municipal lot sales and a property tax rebate program to energize sales.
Mayor Peter Politis told TimminsToday that what’s happening with the housing market is quite problematic.
“The reality is that the Western democratic dream is to own a home and raise a family,” he said.
“We have a whole generation, our youth, who believe they will never be able to own a home, and most would see that as being borderline tragic.”
Politis said they are trying to create a refreshing and positive approach to generate home inventory.
“And the message to those folks that believe that they'll never own a home is that not only can they, and will they, own a home here in Cochrane or even along the Highway 11 corridor, they'll also be able to raise their family in what we're considering to be the greatest way of life and the best backyard in the planet. So, the premise behind this is home inventory,” he said.
There are a lot of factors in terms of migration, Politis said.
“One is the mining industry, obviously, and the baby boomer demographic, which 48 per cent are expected to be vacated from the Northern Ontario workforce between 2020 and 2030, and we all know the pandemic has expedited that,” he said.
Politis said they plan to brand and market to the entire region — from Matheson to Hornepayne.
“What the municipality is doing is putting itself in a position to maximize this window of opportunity,” he said.
According to Politis, council has agreed to allow individuals to do rebates on properties themselves as well as the sale of properties and also on property taxes.
“That's where we are now. The council has provided that direction. And yes, we agreed to providing lots as low as $10 a lot,” he said.
“Now we need to define the program, right? So, what is it? What's the criteria? What are the qualifications? What's the program? How's it going to unfold? How are we going to treat developers versus individuals and that type of thing, and how are we going to make sure that the local municipality here are part of that?”
As the program’s details become further established, the town’s target is to launch in early 2024, Politis said.
“We just want to make sure all of that stuff is in place. So, we've got the concept agreed to right now, now we're working on the program and the details of criteria,” he said.
The town shared the news on their Facebook page in late October, and individuals who commented on the post had mixed opinions regarding the decision.
While some said a higher population is a positive, others wondered why residents weren’t involved in the decision and had concerns regarding the scarcity of local health care.
Politis said they will continue to issue releases regarding the topic.
A reporter at TimminsToday, Marissa Lentz covers civic issues along the Highway 11 corridor under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada.