Missing middle changes aim to make building housing easier in Victoria

Missing middle changes aim to make building housing easier in Victoria
File photo of houses

Days after the province implemented housing targets for 10 municipalities, including Victoria, the committee of the whole has approved changes to the missing middle housing policy aimed at making building easier.

In the scheduled six month review of the program, staff came back with a report that noted in the time since it had been implemented, only three applications have come through to build housing under the missing middle policy.

“We heard feedback that the conditions of use are too prescriptive that the density bonus criteria are too onerous, that corner townhouse setbacks don’t work, that it would help to make heritage conserving infill simpler, and it would help to allow delegated variance approvals and either more or zero parking in some cases,” Malcolm MacLean, senior planner for the City of Victoria, said in the meeting.

Staff put forward several recommended amendments for the policy to make it easier for people to build these types of housing in the city.

The amendments included simplifying the conditions of use, removing all the bonus density requirements except for right-of-way dedication, and amend setback and site coverage regulations.

Council voted 7-2 in favour of the motion with councillors Stephen Hammond and Marg Gardiner opposed.

Coun. Susan Kim says it is important for Victoria to continue densifying.

“This policy accepts the reality that we are densifying in order to evolve and become the residential downtown to the region,” Kim said. “And so I think it’s realistic that we are moving away from single-family homes.”

Hammond says his issue with the missing middle policy is that it does not address affordability, though staff have repeatedly said this is not an initiative for affordability but rather density.

“My big concern is that none of this housing will be in any way affordable,” Hammond said.

“I believe this will financially benefit me and my partner because of land lifts near our residents and our rental properties. We don’t need that, and we certainly don’t need it at the expense of making housing more expensive. Yes, four or six homes on one property where there was once one will be cheaper than one house, but unfortunately, not that much cheaper.”

These changes still have to be voted on in council before receiving final approval.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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