It’s a done deal.
After years of debate, Victoria’s Missing Middle Housing Initiative passed its final hurdle Thursday, clearing one last vote by city council.
The policy will allow for six units of housing on every single-family lot in the city and is intended to increase the amount of medium-density housing to address unaffordability and supply for homebuyers and renters.
Currently, medium-density housing makes up just five percent of new home construction in Victoria. Supporters of the policy argue that it will strike a balance between high-rise towers in the downtown area and the mostly single-family homes in surrounding neighbourhoods.
“The recent election was only a couple months ago and it was about housing and how we want our city to look, and what kind of housing we want our city to provide. I advocated for more family housing in the city, and this missing middle housing is exactly what that is,” Coun. Matt Dell said after the vote.
“[It’s] going to bring more three-bedroom units, more townhomes, more duplexes into the city and I think that was widely, strongly supported in the election and that’s what we voted on to reflect that tonight.”
Mayor Marianne Alto began the discussion, noting that “two and a half years of work by staff and public engagement” had led to the presentation of four bylaws for council’s consideration.
Alto kept the discussion tight, with councillors allotted only 15 minutes of discussion each.
“I’m not upset by the end of the vote, I pretty much knew where that was going to go. It was the process where suddenly the mayor sprung on us that we had very, very limited time in order to ask questions, in order to allow us to ask questions for the public about something that could have a huge impact on this city,” said Hammond, adding he felt “bamboozled” by the discussion and vote.
“I said for me, the trust is lost tonight. Didn’t think that was going to happen in the short space of three months on council.”
Under the policy, developers can build six-unit homes on mid-blocks and up to 12-unit townhouses on some corner lots without a public hearing. However, the policy has been met with opposition from some residents and homeowners, who argue it will negatively impact their neighbourhoods.
That includes resident Ken Roueche.
“I think there is going to be a lot of disruption on my street, and many streets throughout Fairfield, and James Bay, and Gonzales,” Roueche said.
The policy was more of a contentious issue in the lead-up to the civic election, but has since been overshadowed by new B.C. Premier David Eby’s plans to enact the Housing Supply Act, which would force municipalities to increase housing supply as the province deems necessary.