Large affordable rental housing development proposed near Victoria High School

Large affordable rental housing development proposed near Victoria High School
City of Victoria/de Hoog & Kierulf architects
An artist rendering of a proposed affordable housing development near Victoria High School.

A large-scale affordable housing development could be coming to the Fernwood neighbourhood.

The Capital Region Housing Corporation is proposing to build two apartment buildings – one four-storey and one five-storey building – and three three-storey townhouses behind Victoria Senior Secondary School.

Victoria councillors will be discussing a rezoning application requesting increased on-site density for the development at their upcoming committee of the whole meeting on May 7.

According to planning documents available on the city’s website, the proposed development would be built on an 8,681 square metre site that encompasses properties on Grant Street, Vining Street, North Park Street, Caledonia Avenue and Gladstone Avenue.

The development, if realized, would provide 158 units of affordable rental housing development consisting of 14 studio units, 45 one-bedroom units, 77 two-bedroom units, 14 three-bedroom units and eight four-bedroom units. A total of 15 of the units – seven one-bedroom, seven two-bedroom, and one three-bedroom unit – would be accessible and could support ageing in place.

Underground parking for 112 vehicles would also be provided, as well as 195 long-term and 30 short-term residential bicycle parking spaces. Additionally, an eight-metre-wide greenway linking Gladstone Avenue and Grant Street would be constructed. It would feature outdoor seating, garbage bins, bike racks, lighting and community gardens.

A city staff report notes that 50 per cent of the units would be designed as Rent Geared to Income, meaning that their rents would be 30 per cent of the tenants’ household income. These units, according to the report, would be geared towards those with a household income between $35,000 and $84,999.

Another 20 per cent of the units would be “deeply subsidized” in order to serve low-income households making less than $19,000 a year.

The remaining 30 per cent will be available for those with “moderate and above moderate” annual incomes based on BC Housing’s definition, which the report says is $50,000 or more.

There is no specific mention about whether any units would be specifically allocated for those making between $19,000 and $35,000 annually.

The proposal would demolish an existing townhouse complex and a vacant building, resulting in the loss of 22 rental dwelling units, according to the report.

In a letter to mayor and council, the CRHC says the development would provide much-needed affordable housing in the community.

“The request for additional density on this site is warranted in view the significant need for affordable housing and in response to the City’s Strategic Objectives. The proposed development will fully respect the City’s policies and guidelines,” the letter said, adding. “This proposal is compelling and supportable as it increases the supply of affordable housing, is compatible with existing land use in the immediate area, and is centrally located to a number of key amenities.”

City staff have recommended that council move the rezoning application forward to a public hearing.

Additional renderings showing a proposed five-building 158-unit affordable housing development in Fernwood. Courtesy of the City of Victoria/de Hoog & Kierulf architects


Nicholas PescodNicholas Pescod

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