Some things to know ahead of the Missing Middle Housing public hearing

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The public hearing for the Missing Middle Housing Initiative will be held on Aug. 4 to give the public an opportunity to weigh in before the final vote.

Following the public hearing, council will have a chance to vote on the motion, or they can refer it back to staff to incorporate feedback heard.

This article outlines some information about the initiative, and about participating in the upcoming public hearing to help people be prepared for the upcoming meeting.

Key details about the Missing Middle Housing Initiative

The Missing Middle Housing Initiative is a proposal to effectively rezone all single-family zoned properties to allow more types of housing to be built without requiring developments to go through a rezoning process.

With the current zoning, if someone wanted to build a duplex or townhouses on a lot zoned for single-family homes, the person would have to go through a rezoning process, which takes six to eight months, according to the City of Victoria.

“The Missing Middle Housing Initiative is aiming to make it easier to build alternatives to the single-family house,” according to the City of Victoria’s information about the initiative. “This includes zoning changes to allow townhouses, houseplexes (from a triplex to sixplex) and heritage conserving infill.”

The initiative aims to increase the availability of types of housing highlighted in yellow. (City of Victoria)

The initiative aims to make it easier to build heritage conserving infill, duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, and townhouses.

If the Missing Middle Initiative passes, someone looking to build one of the allowed types of housing would be permitted to do so after applying to the city.

Most of the city is currently zoned for single-family homes, and the map below shows all areas that are covered by the rezoning, though there are some properties within those areas not included in the rezoning.

Map courtesy the City of Victoria

According to the City of Victoria, the initiative has seven policy objectives:

  1. Improve options for families to stay in the city.
  2. Increase the supply and variety of housing.
  3. Support car-light lifestyles, use of public transit, and walkable neighbourhoods.
  4. Ensure the look and feel of the missing middle housing fits with the character of the neighbourhood.
  5. Support the conservation of heritage and character homes.
  6. Support a healthy urban forest.
  7. Promote accessiblity in the built environment.

If passed, there will be a two-year evaluation period, at which point staff will report back to council to summarize the outcomes and identify any opportunities for improvement.

There are requirements that housing projects must comply with in order to be approved through missing middle:

  • The home must be oriented to maintain the pattern of landscaped front and back yards.
  • The development must be designed and oriented to present a friendly face to the street.
  • The building must be of high architectural quality and fit with the building proportions to enhance the established streetscape.
  • It must be a good fit with the adjacent buildings.
  • Visual impacts of vehicle parking and access must be minimized.
  • High-quality materials that are durable must be used.
  • Must be designed with open space and privacy in mind.

Victoria’s Tree Protection Bylaw will still apply to the missing middle zoned homes. The bylaw prohibits the removal of protected trees without a permit, and requires trees to be replaced if removed. Additionally, it comes with requirements of minimum numbers of trees on a lot, even if there are no pre-existing trees.

The initiative also has parking requirements. There must be 0.77 parking spaces per dwelling unit, there must be at least one accessible parking spot, and there must be two bicycle parking spots per dwelling unit.

For more information about the Missing Middle Housing Initiative, the City of Victoria put together an information package which can be reviewed here, or information can be viewed on the city’s engagement website.

READ MORE: Neighbourhoods and density at centre of public hearing August fourth

How to participate in the public hearing

The public hearing is scheduled during the evening council meeting on Aug. 4.

The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m., and aside from two requests to address council on unrelated matters, the public hearing is the only item on the agenda.

Members of the public are voted to come voice their support or opposition to the initiative at the public hearing, in order for council to hear feedback before holding a final vote.

There will be written and pre-recorded video submissions from the public, as well as people speaking in person and on the phone.

If you want to participate in the public hearing by phone, you can call 778-698-2440 then participation code 1551794#. Victoria asks that only people interested in speaking call this number, and when it is your turn to speak you will be introduced by the last four digits of your phone number.

Additionally, people will be allowed to speak in person.

The public hearing will also be livestreamed on the city’s website.

Victoria council meetings are scheduled to end at 11 p.m., though they can be extended if council votes to do so.

Council and city staff have made plans to hold an additional public hearing on Friday, Aug. 5 if there are more speakers lined up than can be heard in one day.

More information about Victoria’s public hearing process can be found on the city’s website.

READ MORE: Missing Middle mythbuster: Developer debunks 5 misconceptions of Victoria’s housing initiative

Laura Brougham

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