Housing stock review for City of Victoria finds few gains in rentals

Focus on helping people buy houses in Victoria, councillor says

Victoria has a reputation in the Capital Region for creating policies that encourage rental housing.

But some members of city council wonder whether the emphasis shouldn’t be placed on affordable home ownership.

“For me, if you want housing variety, then Victoria should be striving for more owned units rather than rented units,” Coun. Geoff Young said Thursday. “We should be encouraging rental units elsewhere.”

Coun. Shellie Gudgeon saw merit in the idea.

“The more owners (or) owned properties, the stronger the neighbourhoods,” she said. “For the health of our cities, we have to do two things: encourage affordable rentals, but also try to encourage affordable purchasing.”

Sixty per cent of residents in Victoria rent. Still, the city’s rental vacancy rate was still among Canada’s lowest, at 1.8 per cent in 2011.

According to the latest inventory of the city’s housing stock, rental units are increasingly being found within condo buildings. Between 2010 and 2011, condo owners put 112 new units up for rent. Meanwhile, only 28 purpose-built rental units opened up.

rholmen@vicnews.com