Efforts are being made this week to start a blueprint for housing outcomes in northern Saskatchewan.

A researcher from the Conference Board of Canada says this part of the province is leading the way in creating sustainable housing options for all of northern Canada.

Simon Pulla spoke Wednesday morning on the opening day of the Northern Housing Summit in Prince Albert.

He says his organization recently highlighted some of the most innovative ideas for housing in northern Canada, and one of them comes from La Ronge.

Pulla explains the NORTEP housing complex for students shows how good housing can improve educational opportunities for northern youth.

“So by building these really amazing houses and units, I think some of them were like family units, it was providing those students with an opportunity to stay in the program, to have a really positive experience and to be able to focus on their education more,” he says.

Meanwhile, another person at the summit says he hopes the provincial government begins to let northerners have more say in how their housing is developed.

Allan Morin of Ile-a-la Crosse says many plans seem to be done on the spur-of-the-moment, where a slow policy-based approach from a northern viewpoint would be more beneficial.

New North chair Georgina Jolibois says she believes northerners have the ear of key decision-makers.

“I am fairly optimistic for different partners to play a role in coordinating a comprehensive plan for the north,” she says. “I am pretty optimistic because we have the attention of the Saskatchewan government, CHMC and some other areas are raising concerns, speaking to the statistics and the need to include housing and build more homes in the north.”

Prairie Wild Consulting has been brought in to lead the session.

In her community of La Loche, she says she estimates the waiting list for government housing has roughly 475 names on it.

Jolibois says the private sector can’t be relied upon to improve the housing situation in the north – government investment is required.

She adds many delegates are upset the government is raising the rent of SaskHousing units to 30 per cent of a tenants’ gross income.