It’s election season in northwestern Ontario!

Q104, KenoraOnline and DrydenNow asked each Council and Mayor candidate for their thoughts on a variety of issues in the community, and we’ll be running a series of articles with candidates’ responses.

#1 – How would you like to see the community’s housing shortage addressed? Would you further support social housing under the KDSB? Advocate for commercial developments? Other proposals?

- Shayne MacKinnon
“Ideally, a mixture of commercial developments along with Government initiated affordable housing projects would assist with our needs.

Many of our seniors have a desire to transition from their homes to safe affordable apartments where they can receive various levels of assistance. The current 40-unit seniors housing project in Dryden and the prospect of commercial buildings being developed should lead to more choices and availability in our community.

Through our new official plan and Provincial streamlining legislation, the City can support these projects and entertain creative housing solutions such as backyard suites, garage conversions and more multi-residential options.”

- Jack B. Harrison
“There are many aspects of our community's housing shortage from low-income and starter homes to realistically priced rental apartments. I would continue to support commercial development, especially multi-dwelling complexes as they are a more efficient use of our land.

With the recent construction of two apartments (Timberlands Estates), a need for seniors who wanted to downsize was met and freed up a large number of homes for families. It was a pleasure for me to be part of the group that brought that to fruition.

KDSB has a mandate for providing social housing which includes homelessness and ‘geared to income’ housing. I would be willing to work with KDSB to help fulfill their mandate. I am very pleased that KDSB initiated a 41-bed ‘geared to income’ building for seniors that is currently being built on Arthur Street and you can see the walls being erected now and will be ready in 2023.”

- Martin MacKinnon
“Community housing shortage can only be resolved by the collaboration of all. KDSB must continue to play an important role in this and the development of partnerships that enhance local housing stocks.

The city council must continue its constant advocacy with both provincial and federal governments on funding for projects and explore ways to attract commercial ventures to again start projects in a very cost-prohibitive environment.”

- Bill Latham
“Yes, I support the KDSB and look forward to reviewing all housing and commercial development and working collaboratively for Dryden to continue to grow positively.

- Catherine Kiewning
“We should be exploring a variety of housing options like apartment buildings, co-housing options, social housing and single detached homes.

Building up the housing supply locally should be a priority for the municipality because it will help with the retention of local professionals. If there was a way for our municipality to ensure all housing was affordable and safe, I would support it.

Commercial developments would be great, especially if they included on-site laundry (free), child-care, a convenience store, an exercise room, at a central location, utilities included, free parking, pet-friendly, reliable maintenance professionals and the bottom line is that the units must be affordable (no more than $1000).”

- Bryan Tardiff
“Addressing the housing shortage is a very complex problem; as I understand it, Municipalities are not mandated to take on the role of developers, realtors or property landlords. We definitely must look at ways to attract housing development, without disproportionately subsidizing such developments in a manner that will take away from tax revenue needed to construct and maintain services for them.

New home construction is at a difficult time with record costs for building materials and a shortage of available trades. There are many people wanting to build that are just finding it too expensive and those that have the finances are having a hard time finding contractors to take on the project.

The shortage of available real estate has also pushed sales prices to record highs and many residents trying to buy 1st homes are not able to qualify for mortgages, in the amount they need, to buy in this market. These are things that a municipality cannot control.

I am unsure that social housing projects, under management of organizations such as KDSB are the answer. I think we often too quickly pass responsibility for services management off to overstaffed, bureaucratic administrations and that there are too many organizations, such as these, duplicating services and wasting tax dollars. It's my opinion, when these organizations continually compete for operational tax dollars, funding earmarked for those who need it is distributed in dollars and received in pennies.

I would like to see housing programs that give the tenant some degree of ownership, this would require them to have or grow an investment in their residence that would build equity available to them when they are ready to move out and move up. For social housing to work there has to be goal setting, an incentive for advancement and the opportunity for continuing better life.

In order for any of this to come to fruition, Municipalities, First Nations and social assistance organizations need to come together, rationalize the amount of administration required, develop a unified plan that is made specifically for our area and work as one on a joint lobbying effort that will affect positive change with minimal waste of tax dollars.”

- Ritch Noel
“The problem is larger than just a housing shortage.  In fact, there are at least 2 apartment buildings here in Dryden with multiple empty units and they have been empty for quite some time.  Whether they are undergoing renovations or not I don’t know. 

What I do know is that numerous units have been empty for months now.  I have seen a homeless person sleeping on a discarded couch outside one of those complexes here in Dryden while at least 4 units are without occupants mere feet from where she was sleeping.  This is unacceptable. 

I am in support of any measures that will ensure the residents of this city are provided with adequate housing either under the KDSB, commercial developments and/or including a temporary shelter as a final resort.”

- Brad Pareis
“Recent private developments of senior-oriented housing have served to help open up some single-family homes for resale, but Dryden needs much more housing, especially in the affordable category. I think there are potential partnerships between the KDSB, Ontario Aboriginal Housing, and even the Province which could be explored.”

- David Burch (added afterwards)
"Dryden has a housing, apartment and senior living shortage. We need housing in this area and it needs to be affordable. We need to be advocating strongly to set goals through the planning and economic office to find building developers and assist them in developing Dryden.

I plan on attracting contracting businesses to Dryden and have them be busy here as soon as they open their doors. I plan to work closely with the economic office and city manager to ensure this happens. We need to be attracting investors and developers to this area. I have already taken the initiative to speak with several.

We need to streamline our system so that getting the proper permits and permission doesn’t take any more time than is necessary. I support KDSB, but also know we need to take care of our problems ourselves. I pledge to work closely with all parties to ensure our residents are taken care of."

Every candidate was asked for their responses to five questions related to issues in the community. As of the time of publishing, we did not receive responses from Michelle Price.

Advanced voting is underway in Kenora and voting begins in Dryden on October 14. The Municipal election will wrap up on October 24.