Victoria’s newest council has greenlit a contentious housing initiative that makes it easier to densify neighbourhoods, after a tumultuous and lengthy debate that’s gone on for years.
The “missing middle” housing policy has been approved in a 6-3 vote. It allows builders to construct multiplexes – such as townhomes and four-plexes – without having to rezone the lot.
“I think everybody recognizes that we need more density, we need more housing,” said Coun. Chris Coleman, despite voting against it.
He’s concerned with the initiative treating all neighbourhoods the same and doesn’t think it does enough to address affordability.
“I’m sure we will construct new housing options, but I don’t think the rents will go down,” said Coleman.
Aryze Developments used to work on projects of a similar scale, but says the long rezoning process made it difficult to build a business in Victoria. It’s moved on to higher density projects, but thinks there are others who will be interested – including co-ops and non-profits.
“Because the rezoning process is a huge barrier to people, to coming together, to want to do a co-op together,” said owner Luke Mari.
“So with that out of the way, it’s much easier to secure funding for these smaller projects,” he said.
An entrance to Victoria city hall is shown: (CTV News Vancouver Island)The rental advocate Together Against Poverty Society is hopeful the plan could lead to smaller scale, supportive and subsidized housing sites – and is encouraged about the diversity it should bring.
But, it’s also concerned about affordability in the region as prices increase.
“We would encourage municipal bylaws to work with provincial legislation to focus on vacancy control as a priority,” said Antonia Mah.
The introduction of such a control would prevent landlords from hiking the rent for new tenants when another moves out.
The South Island Prosperity Partnership watches the regional economy, connecting with local businesses regularly. It says, amid the labour shortage, employers across all industries are asking for more housing to help recruit and retain staff.
“The ultimate goal from our perspective is to have a sustainable economy,” said Dallas Gislason with SIPP.
“We need to be able to attract people to the region – younger people, we need health-care workers, we need doctors. Those people in all cases need somewhere to live and there’s just quite frankly not enough,” he said.
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