Amid the continuing scrutiny of the province’s response to the housing crisis in Ontario, the residents of a small northern town, the Unincorporated Town of Gogama, reveal they have had a potential solution to their housing shortfall for years. They assert that the province has been sitting on a collection of around 20 deserted properties, despite having a pool of keen buyers at their disposal. The properties, they say, would ideally serve the housing requirement of workers employed at the nearby Cote Gold mine.
France Gélinas, the representative from NDP MPP, has made efforts to instigate the sale of these properties. However, up until now, no concrete actions have been taken. The inaction gains prominence, given the recent criticism leveled against the province for mismanaging the housing crisis and maintaining a preference for Greenbelt development.
In her frustration, Gélinas pointed out the province’s inefficiency. She reveals, “They managed to offload an $8.2 billion real estate property within three weeks, yet they have procrastinated for over three years about these available properties. So far, they have not initiated the process to put these houses up for sale.”
Her first appeal to the province’s infrastructure minister was in 2021. However, when requested for an update this year, she was informed it would take an additional 24 months.
Concurrently, community officials report a regular flurry of people expressing interest in purchasing these properties. Christine Bedard from the Gogama Chamber of Commerce asserted that the houses would be “snapped up in seconds.” Bedard was hopeful that such sales would invigorate the local economy, foster the establishment of new businesses, and attract young families to town, thereby increasing school attendance.
Gogama Local Services Board’s Daniel Mantha concurred, maintaining that “everybody stands to benefit from this solution except for the lethargic government.” He further expressed his ire over their inaction by stating, “They have lamented about the housing crisis, and yet, concerning the nearly 20 properties in Gogama, they have done nothing.”
While these properties are connected to utility supplies, their structures have decayed. Meanwhile, the demand for rental accommodations has pushed the region’s vacancy rates to nearly nil. Property owner Monique Laurin lamented the shortage, emphasizing the increasing pressures to accommodate the swell in labor force numbers.
France Gélinas contends that resolving this issue is long overdue and insists all the province needs to do is offer the green light. She deduces, “so that the people of Gogama benefit from the billions of dollars being spent across the road.” Gélinas has boldly volunteered to install the ‘for sale’ signs herself if that catalyzes action.
The Ministry of Infrastructure has yet to provide an update regarding this issue.