A small town in northeastern Ontario is being inundated with interest after announcing a program that would see plots of land for new home builds being offered for as low as $10 along with a five-year property tax break.

Cochrane, Ontario’s municipal council voted to adopt this plan during a special meeting last November.

Set to launch by early May at the latest, the expansion of town of more than 5,000 will include up to 1,500 new plots of land, which is roughly the size of three municipal subdivisions. These kinds of properties in Cochrane typically sell for around $50,000 each.

As for the construction and installation of infrastructure, like sewers and other utilities, that will be handled by developers with the new property owners on the hook for covering those costs.

Despite those stipulations, more than 4,000 people have already expressed interest in the program, Cochrane Mayor Peter Politis told CP24.com during an interview on Thursday.

“It's really quite remarkable, quite frankly, and we haven't even launched yet,” he said, adding that the “vast majority” of those who have reached out so far are from southern Ontario, specifically the Greater Toronto Area.

“Judging by what's happened so far, I think we're very positive about where it's gonna go and you know, we always have the opportunity to expand the settlement area.”

Town a 'Great Canadian way of living'

The mayor went on to say that Cochrane, which is more than seven hours north of Toronto, is a modern municipality where people will be proud to call home and raise a family.

He said it’s a town where people can “enjoy the Great Canadian way of living” while being able to “affordably invest” back in the community.

That's a far cry from Toronto where it could take decades to save for the down payment on a home. According to a recent housing affordability report by the National Bank of Canada, Torontonians who earn a median annual income of $91,858 about 25 years to save for a down payment on a house.

Politis, meanwhile. also noted that Cochrane has the amenities people want, including its own phone and electrical utility companies, as well as full fibre optics and full internet service throught the region and beyond.

“We have a lot to offer, and I think most people, when they experience that coming from the larger, more mainstream parts of the country, really appreciate the values that come along with that,” he said.

Politis also said there are good, well-paying jobs in the area, pointing to the region’s robust mining, forestry, and natural resources industries.

Further, he said that Cochrane is not as far north as some may think as its located along the 49th parallel and is south of both Winnipeg and Calgary.

Peter Politis Cochrane mayor

Expansion plan in works 

The municipality, he noted, has been working for more than a decade on its “comprehensive” expansion plan, which includes innovative ideas to offer people from all walks of life and socio-economic brackets the opportunity to own a home in Cochrane and live well in the town.

This includes having supports and services in place such as family doctors and healthcare, schools, and programs for seniors.

“You have to create growth. So it's a bit of a chicken and egg thing and we're working very diligently with the province on this,” Politis said.

Cochrane, he said, is also considering different ideas from developers and groups along with support agencies, who are looking at how they can assist people who don’t qualify for a mortgage among other things.

“And we're not looking at rolling in some type of crazy manner, either. The whole beauty of we provide the small town charm so we’re try to maintain that as well,” the town’s mayor said.

“I think that there's a great opportunity here. … We could be at the forefront of some pretty interesting developments that could be a template to be used in other places, which is exciting.”

Politis said Canada is the second largest country on the planet, but most of the country’s population lives within a few hundred kilometres of the U.S. border.

“I think it's a great opportunity to start a direction of expanding into other vast areas that we have in this country. It's an opportunity for Canada,” he said.