Construction has begun on a 30-unit supportive housing unit in the Evergreen area of Kenora, one of the many housing builds planned for the community in 2022.

The $4.5 million 30-unit supportive housing facility is expected to be developed on a 0.6-hectare parcel of land beside the Private David Kejick DCM Armouries, which was renamed in 2018 in honour of the World War 1 veteran and former Shoal Lake First Nation Chief, with frontage on 661 Ninth Street North.

''Designs courtesy of Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services.

The project is a partnership between the Kenora District Services Board and Ontario’s Aboriginal Housing Services. OAHS is expected to develop and build the facility, while the KDSB will provide rent supplements. Construction was supposed to begin in 2020 but was delayed.

The facility aims to provide supportive housing for people transitioning away from homelessness with a variety of support services and is expected to be staffed 24-hours a day. The development of the project was modelled after a similar transitional housing facility in Sioux Lookout.

''

Kenora residents voiced their concerns surrounding the project in a variety of public meetings when plans were announced in 2019, saying the project was located too close to residential areas, Evergreen Public School and the Evergreen Community Club. Over 20 complaints were submitted or presented to staff, as well as a 300-name petition against the work.

Despite the public’s concerns, city councillors approved rezoning for the project in April of 2019, with support from the Keewatin-Patricia District School Board, Kenora Catholic and the Northwestern Health Unit. The province had announced a funding agreement for the work one month prior.

''

Other housing projects the KDSB is tackling this year in Kenora include 20 affordable housing units on Matheson Street, second stage housing on Fifth Street South, a new to-be-announced seniors facility and an expected redevelopment of the Benidickson Court seniors facility.

Across the region, the KDSB also plans to build supportive housing units and seniors units on Orvis Street in Dryden with more seniors units planned for Arthur Street, and the continued redevelopment of existing housing units across the region.

The KDSB says in 2014, they had about 400 families waiting for affordable housing in the district. By 2022, that number had grown to over 1,300 families.

Overall, the KDSB says the need for housing has increased by about 350 per cent since 2011. Their data shows that demographics most in need include seniors, families and single residents.