The Municipality of Red Lake wants to build more housing so workers at the local mines can live in the community.

A housing shortage is one reason that hundreds of contractors commute to their jobs.

Red Lake's economic development officer said much of the land in the municipality is already staked for mining claims — meaning it can't be built on.

"Well, it might look open to the naked eye but, in truth … we cannot develop up here,” Bill Greenway said.

Mining company Goldcorp is currently building 10 homes, with another 40 planned for a subdivision.  But that is just a start on what's needed, Greenway said

The cost of servicing a building lot on bedrock is in the tens of thousands of dollars, he noted.

Goldcorp Red Lake

To help with Red Lake's housing crunch, mining company Goldcorp is building dozens of homes in a new subdivision. (Jeff Walters/CBC)

"Infrastructure costs are probably the biggest detriment to development here, because you're usually looking at using explosives to actually embed water, sewer lines,” Greenway said.

Word of mouth

Finding a solution to the housing shortage would make it easier for Ron Parks to attract staff to his Tim Horton’s store.

"The main problem here is they have a hard time finding a place to live,” Parks said.

“They end up leaving because of rent and everything, the cost of living is very high. So, it's hard to attract people to come and stay here."

He said every time a place for rent is advertised, it is almost immediately snapped up.

"Once the community [saw] I was short staffed … being a small town, people approached me about having a place to live,” he said. “How you have to find a place to live here is people have to approach you.”