Affordable housing could be in development soon in the community of Marsktay-Warren thanks to a partnership between the municipality and Habitat for Humanity Ontario Gateway North.

The municipality passed a motion at its June 17 council meeting to collaborate with Habitat for Humanity and partners to develop a five-year strategy that will explore land opportunities to feature individual home ownership, affordable rental units, supportive housing for seniors and other options. 

A formal memorandum of understanding will be presented, discussed and ratified at a council meeting in September. 

Marsktay-Warren is located just east of Greater Sudbury and has a population of about 2,600.

Habitat director of community partnerships Michael Cullen said if all goes well, this project could be a prototype for future affordable housing projects in rural communities like Espanola, French River and Manitoulin Island.

“Rural Ontario needs affordable housing,” he said. “Let’s do it right so it’s duplicable.”

Cullen said he has spent the last several months building a team of experts, from construction, architecture, finance, economic development, all levels of government, not-for-profits from various sectors, and representatives from the many agencies and groups that could be the ultimate beneficiaries of Habitat for Humanity homes. 

Cullen has been actively engaged in discussions with special interest groups like newcomers, Indigenous, veterans, seniors and 2SLGBTQIA, among others.

The Sudbury architecture firm 3rdLine Studios and construction companies Soublière Constructors and MetaLigna Modular are on board. Cullen said there might even be an opportunity for a modular home manufacturing plant in the community.

Accessible and serviceable land is key to the project’s success and has been the main obstacle to date. However, Markstay-Warren Mayor Steve Olsen said his community is ready and willing to partner with Habitat and attract newcomers. Plus, the community has the land to make it happen. Although no land has been identified yet, a working committee has been established and they are meeting this coming week to start an action plan with timelines.

When asked about the project price tag, Olsen and Cullen said it is too early in the process. 

“It is difficult to say as we are at the beginning of the project,” said Olsen. “For the foreseeable future, staff time is the only cost to the municipality.”

However, he added, “This innovative partnership will provide much-needed options for our present and future generations. For instance, older adults will be able to remain in their home community longer via supportive housing units, young families will be able to afford their own home without a crippling debt load, and there will be employment opportunities for our young generations.”

Olsen said Markstay-Warren will not only attract new businesses and industry, but also new residents looking for affordable living in a “quiet, relaxed, safe, and welcoming environment”.

In a news release, Habitat for Humanity Ontario Gateway North CEO Kimberly Woodcock indicated that the organization was investigating “a model that builds as many homes as we can in as short a timeframe as possible. This will help us address the needs of marginalized groups while also being part of the solution to the affordable housing crisis overall.” 

The Local Journalism Initiative is made possible through funding from the federal government.

Twitter: @SudburyStar

By Laura Stradiotto, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 25, 2023 at 11:03

This item reprinted with permission from   The Sudbury Star    Sudbury, Ontario
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