Affordable to who? Councillor critical of townhouse development previously slated for affordable housing


A townhouse development on the Victoria-Oak Bay border previously earmarked for affordable housing is selling three-bedroom townhouses starting at $1.2 million.

The development, Wisteria Row, is a project from Aryze Developments, and they say interest in the new units is high.

“When you look at these townhomes, they are affordable for the neighbourhood,” says sales director Sarah Henderson. The development sits at the intersection of Quamichan Street, Redfern Street and Foul Bay Road in Victoria.

“No question it’s good that it’s being built,” says Victoria councillor Marg Gardiner.

But Gardiner says initial approval of the project in 2022 came on the developer’s promise to make four of the 18 townhouses below-market affordable housing.

READ PREVIOUS: Foul Bay townhouse developer asks to drop affordable housing covenant

Last November, Aryze Developments applied to have that covenant removed, citing ballooning costs, and Victoria council approved the change.

One of the dissenting voices on council was Gardiner.

“I think people have to be weary about the games that are being played, and perhaps the way that decisions are being made at the current council table,” she says.

Randy Romanin lives nearby and says the starting price is appropriate for the area.

“I think it’s probably pretty reasonable when you get down to it,” he says of the $1.2 million price tag. “I’m sure they’ll move fast.”

Henderson says interest in the project is high and confirms some units have sold.

“If you look at the listings in Gonzalez and East Fairfield area, right now the average price is over $2.8 million for active listings. By standards set in that neighbourhood, I do believe that these will offer an opportunity for people who could not get into a detached single-family home.”

Still, Gardiner says it’s disappointing that lower-income buyers will be excluded with the removal of the affordable housing component.

“That extra $200,000 to $250,000 would have made a big difference to somebody as to what kind of mortgage they could carry,” she says.

Aryze Developments says construction on Wisteria Row should start in late spring.

Jordan Cunningham

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