In the face of an urgent need for housing to accommodate families and skilled labor in northern communities, the Town of Cochrane is poised to introduce an audacious incentive program.
Mayor Peter Politis revealed that the town council has authorized selling land at unprecedented markdowns, expressing, “We can go as low as $10 a property.” The program isn’t just centered on the sale of properties, there’s also a scheme brewing to temporarily exempt new homeowners from property taxes for a specified duration.
While the program’s nitty-gritty is still under deliberation, Mayor Politis exudes an undaunted posture pushing for the amplification of the town’s growth trajectory. He envisioned this move as a way to fulfill industrial workforce needs and grant young families with the quintessential “Canadian dream” of owning homes.
In making a case for the initiative, Politis argued that many young people may be resigned to the belief that homeownership is an unattainable luxury. He sees the program as a beacon of hope, signaling to the populace that not only is homeownership attainable in Cochrane, but it also offers a nurturing environment to raise a family, right in the heart of mother nature’s beautiful backyard.
Drawing a parallel, the Mayor pointed toward the town of Smooth Rock Falls, which lies to the north of Cochrane, that garnered national attention for selling land at $500 since 2017. However, he clarified that Cochrane would ramp up the proposition with additional property tax incentives and a strategic plan to promote the Highway 11 corridor, contributing to regional growth.
Reacting to the incentive plan, Danny Whalen, president of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities, expressed cautious optimism. Though acknowledging the potential long-term benefits, he cautioned communities to ensure their financial robustness is not compromised in the quest for growth and to plan for additional service demands until increased property tax revenues kick in.
There’s also the reality of the impact on current taxpayers to be considered, as highlighted by Whalen. He illustrated this point by referring to long-term residents essentially subsidizing the newcomers’ infrastructure expenses. A cogent financial strategy and a robust communication plan for current residents should be necessities, he advocated.
Mayor Politis maintains that the initiative’s aim is to cultivate growth for the benefit of all, including the existing population. Local industries have expressed that they would rather their workers live within the community, and according to Politis, the goal is to cater to that demand.
From Mayor Politis’s vantage point, the potential influx of new homeowners and residents would be managed efficiently. He painted a promising picture of lots being snapped up quickly once the marketing machine starts grinding. The expectation is to finalize the new housing incentive program next month, with the grand unveil slated for January of next year.