An 82-unit affordable apartment building on Gorge Road East will not come to fruition.
During a council meeting on Oct. 4, city council voted to send Cool Aid’s proposal for the redevelopment of 210 Gorge Road East (Cedar Grove) back to city planning staff and the Cool Aid Society.
The proposal had included 61 new affordable units for people who could not pay the high rental rates across the city, including students, seniors, low-income earners, unemployed persons and single parent families. The units would have included 41 studios, 10 one bedrooms and 10 two-bedroom apartments. Eleven of the apartments would be for people living on income assistance, in addition to the replacement of the existing 21 low-income apartments currently at the site. Approximately 80 to 90 additional people would have lived in the six-storey building.
According to the Cool Aid Society, the project met all the requirements of the Official Community Plan (OCP) but some of the design elements did not fit with the newly-adopted Burnside Gorge neighbourhood plan. The society said community feedback on the plan, along with concerns related to homelessness in the area, led to the proposal to be referred back to staff for revisions to meet the local area plan’s guideline of four to five storeys for the site.
“Cool Aid is going to sharpen our pencils and get back to the drawing board to try and create a project that will address neighbourhood concerns and be financially viable. We will move forward as quickly as possible,” Cool Aid CEO Kathy Stinson said in a release.
“We have been serving the most poor and vulnerable members of Greater Victoria for over 50 years and Cool Aid remains committed to finding solutions for those who are homeless and preventing homelessness through affordable housing. We look forward to partnering with the community and the next Council to achieve much-needed affordable housing.”
Don McTavish, director of residential services for the society, said delays cost a lot of money, which could raise rents and make the project less viable.
“This site is built on an old motel. It’s 60 years old, it’s way beyond it’s useful, it desperately needs to be rebuilt and renovated and the community needs a range of affordable housing,” McTavish said.
“We’re disappointed that it didn’t receive approval. We did work very hard with our immediate neighbours to make it a beautiful project.”
McTavish said emergency shelters in the area are at capacity every night and the recent homeless count indicated approximately 1,500 people are still homeless in the region.