More low-income, small-family housing needed in Île-à-la-Crosse

·3 min read

Île-à-la-Crosse, a northern village of about 1,400 people, plans to build a new subdivision to meet residents’ various housing needs — and it now has a clearer picture of the people who will live in them.

On Thursday, consultants from Urban Systems gave a presentation in the village, sharing the results of a community survey and some recommendations.

They also talked to council members, local RCMP officers, educators and medical professionals.

Coun. Gerald Roy said the plans are about “looking to the future” and ensuring there is enough affordable housing for local residents.

“This plan will help us in trying to secure some funding for the development of a new subdivision in the community, and also to look at alternative housing like tiny homes and eco-homes,” he said.

According to Urban Systems, Île-à-la-Crosse is a slowly-growing community — by 2036, about 200 more people may live in the village — but most of its dwellings were built more than 20 years ago.

“We heard that … a lot of the houses that are available were built quite some time ago,” said community planner Carolyn Dunn. “They’re showing their age.”

Some residents also flagged “quality issues,” like poor insulation leading to high heating bills, or mold that poses a health risk.

“Some investment (needs) to happen to bring the quality of housing up to par,” Dunn said.

Nearly 20 per cent of households said their housing situation had deteriorated in some way — becoming more expensive, more crowded, or in worse repair — over the last five years.

Overall, the Urban Systems survey found 11 per cent of households in the community are in need of repair and 17 per cent are overcrowded.

Along with that, 11 per cent of Île-à-la-Crosse households reported paying more than 30 per cent of their monthly income for housing — a benchmark of affordability.

Dunn said she thinks the real number of Île-à-la-Crosse families struggling to pay for housing may be higher than the survey found, since many chose not to report their income.

In total, 18 per cent of households in the village said they need to move out of their current housing situation “immediately.”

“A lot of residents were sharing that ‘if we could move, we would want to move, but there are a lack of available units to choose from,’ ” Dunn said.

Fifty-five of the people surveyed said they were homeless or couch surfing “due to the lack of affordable housing units, support services, and employment opportunities.”

The data's purpose is to help Île-à-la-Crosse’s council decide what kinds of housing the community needs most.

For example, because it's a young village — the median age is 30 — the consultants recommended building more small-family units.

Residents also said the village needs more supportive housing for elders and seniors, as well as accessible units for people with disabilities.

Julia Peterson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting