Pitch to buy cheap land in rural northern Ontario gets international attention

An offer to purchase land for $500 a lot in a northern Ontario rural community is gathering international attention.
The Town of Smooth Rock Falls is going to start offering more land at a discounted price, after selling 15 lots for $500 each. (Facebook/Town of Smooth Rock Falls)

An offer to purchase land for $500 per lot in a rural northern Ontario community is gathering international attention.

"We've had an amazing response," Michel Arseneault, the mayor of Smooth Rock Falls, Ont., said. The community is located about 800 kilometres north of Toronto.

In September, the community launched a promotion, selling lots for $500 each. It was to counter the out-migration of youth that has been occurring since the Tembec plant shut down in 2006.

When the offer was put out, Arseneault says he received hundreds and hundreds of e-mails and phone calls from all corners of the world, including Australia, England and India.

"We launched our marketing campaign on a Wednesday … and on the Monday, all the lots were sold to one developer from Toronto," he said.

"It's amazing. It's to the point where we've put up more land for sale."

He says the developer plans to build modular homes on the lots.

'You can own your own home'

Arseneault says the town is now offering lots for sale. He says businesses are inquiring about commercial and industrial lots.

Arseneault says the idea just isn't about selling cheap land.

"What we're doing is selling a lifestyle," he said.

"If you come to Smooth Rock Falls and buy a lot, you not only get the discounts and the incentives, you also get a quality of life."

Arseneault says his community offers access to health care and recreation such as golfing, skating and cross country skiing.

He says selling the northern lifestyle may appeal to couples in urban areas.

"If you live in Toronto, the odds of you being able to afford your own home are very small," he said.

"But if you come to a town like Smooth Rock Falls, you can own your own home. That's big for a lot of people."

With files from Up North


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