Potential housing solution facing challenges across Greater Victoria

Watch With the cost of housing hitting an all time high in Greater Victoria There is debate about the best way forward . One solution known as missing middle housing is touted as a way to make an affordable impact. But some of the projects here are facing opposition. Julian Kolsut explains.

One potential alleviation to the housing crisis is facing barriers across Greater Victoria according to developers.

Missing middle housing, which takes the form of multi-family housing such as duplexes are being pitches as one step to solving the low supply driving prices to record highs.

“It’s the type of housing between single-family homes and apartment buildings,” said Luke Mari of Aryze Developments.

“Middle-sized households having middle-sized homes for middle-sized incomes. We are trying to build multi-family homes which are contextually way less expensive than a single-family home.”

But he says multiple projects around the region are facing public pushback, and regulations around building and re-zoning are a large barrier to overcome.

“We all agree we need housing. But it just needs to go somewhere else,” he said.

“There is a host of reasons of why it shouldn’t go where it’s being proposed to go, and that unfortunate attitude is everybody has it is that there is essentially no place for anyone to go.”

One of the locations under scrutiny is their Quamichan project, an 18-home proposed development located on the corner of Foul Bay Road in Victoria. If approved, it would see 18 three-storey homes constructed on a 21,958 square-foot parcels of land.

Some in the neighbourhood say it’s desperately needed.

“It’s the type of thing that is so needed in the community,” said Brian Vatne, who lives just down the street.

“We do need to increase options for housing.”

Others say the project in its current form is not the right fit for the neighbourhood.

“This particular project is too big. It almost takes over the whole lot,” said resident Peter Nadler.

“It’ going to remove around 29 trees and it’s not going to provide affordable housing only to the top 75th percentile.”

READ MORE: Average Greater Victoria home price sets new record, surpasses $1.2 million

A potential future resident of the project says it’s the only way she would be able to stay in the neighbourhood.

“Everyone I know right now can’t get into the market, is outbid,” said April Mcneil. “We are just in a rental trying to sit tight”

In Saanich’s, specifically the Royal Oak neighbourhood, a number of projects are facing pushback, with residents raising concerns around projects exceeding size and density regulations.

But Saanich councillor Zac de Vries says a compromise can be found.

“I think there are ways we can be more efficiently and timely, we can deliver the better housing outcomes,” he said.

“We can deliver better consultation and make our communities more livable and still have fair practices where applicants can know what to expect as well.”

Experts agree that easing building restrictions and collaborating on design are key to creating more housing

“Densification areas are not broad enough, open enough,” said Mark Holland, a real estate development consultant and professor at Vancouver Island University.

“So we end up with developers and landowners working around trying to find a site. They try to make something work and it doesn’t fit the plans then we have a three-year battle.”

He stresses design collaboration between developers and the neighbourhood.

“We wear our buildings and our neighbourhoods like the clothes we wear. It’s not the exact match with our identity but it needs to be close,” said Hollands.

But it’s mostly up to local governments to make those changes.

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Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

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