Pair of Thunder Bay housing projects stalled

Expanding affordable living options in Thunder Bay continues to be the goal of both local provincial representatives.

Thunder Bay-Superior North NDP MPP Lise Vaugeois says that projects involving Suomi Koti and the newly-created not-for-profit corporation called Giwaa On Court have hit a wall when it comes to provincial funding.

“The housing is needed, most of the designs are there [and] a lot of the financing is in place but not all of it,” she said. “There’s never a problem to get high-end housing, we have lots of high-end housing [in Thunder Bay] but we don't have affordable housing. I have said this many times, we live in a very wealthy province, and yet particularly in the north, we don't see that. Ordinary people do not see that wealth.”

Back in April, Vaugeois wrote a letter to the Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark, looking for funding to support the construction of affordable, non-profit independent-living housing for seniors in Thunder Bay.

Christopher McDowell, a spokesperson for Thunder Bay Atikokan PC MPP Kevin Holland, said that the province, through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, allocates housing program funding to service managers and Indigenous housing providers such as the District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board and the Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services.

“As they are responsible for the selection and implementation of various housing projects, inquiries related to program funding use or eligibility for a specific project should be directed to those administrators,” McDowell added.

“MPP Holland is working closely with the provincial government and local community to help bring more affordable housing to Thunder Bay. As he understands it, the local DSSAB requires the project in question to secure financing for their market housing component first, before they would be eligible to apply for funding. This work appears to be underway and MPP Holland looks forward to continuing to advocate for more affordable homes in Thunder Bay."

District of Thunder Bay Social Services Administration Board CAO Bill Bradica confirmed a letter of support for the Suomi Koti was provided to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

“The majority of the units that they're proposing are market units. So, we would not be able to provide any assistance with those, and we do get a small allocation of capital funding through the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative, Bradica added.

Bradica noted that the majority of the people on the services board's wait list for rent geared to income housing are not seniors, but rather those between the ages of 18 and 64.

Kevin Jeffrey, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,