Sioux Lookout Councillors and staff with the Sioux Lookout Friendship Accord are hoping to see work start on a new 18-unit apartment building this summer.
Leadership of the accord and potential developer Fusion Capital joined Councillors for a Special Meeting of Council on March 14 to discuss their proposal with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
Their report details a $6 million 18-unit apartment building at 9 5th Avenue off Wellington Street and Government Row, near an existing 48-unit condominium complex build.
The new building would be situated around the existing Tim Hortons location and Rotary Park. The area will also soon be home to a new Dairy Queen and a strip mall.
The report explains the 18-unit building will be geared towards Indigenous people, women and women with children and all the new homes are expected to be fully accessible. 12 of the units would have 2 bedrooms, while 6 would have a single bedroom.
Other amenities in the building include a coin-operated laundry service, professional property management by the Kenora District Services Board, 24-hour security and surveillance, monthly parking and a full-time on-site caretaker.
Executive Director of Sioux Lookout Friendship Accord, Jacob Dockstator, says if approved, shovels could be in the ground by July 1, 2023, and the building could be ready by the spring of 2024.
“This is a large track of vacant land, very close to downtown. It’s needed and will support further development in this area going forward,” said Councillor Joe Cassidy, who notes some roadway and sidewalk upgrades may be needed for the project.
“[But] we can’t want housing and not want to do the things required to have housing. It’s a good location. It’ll be good to see things start to come online there,” he adds.
The property near the MNR Beach was deemed surplus by the MNR over a decade ago and sold back to the municipality. And earlier this year, councillors already accepted the sale of their piece of the land.
“We are all being encouraged to facilitate housing in any way shape or form. And I think it’s a good thing that the municipality gets involved,” adds Mayor Doug Lawrance.
The application is going through the federal government’s Rapid Housing Initiative, which is providing $1.5 billion to projects and municipalities to help develop affordable housing across the country in 2023.
The accord notes they needed a proponent for the application, required by the CMHC. It was originally Lac Seul First Nation, but they already had another application in with the Rapid Housing Initiative and the accord had to pivot to ask the municipality for its support.
Councillors approved sending in the application at the conclusion of their meeting and developers will be waiting to hear back from Ottawa.