Illustration of the design for The Hive, a below market-rate micro-suite housing development proposed for 736 Princess St. The proposal, which would require a significant change to the City’s official community plan, was sent back to staff for more work after being discussed during committee of the whole on Thursday. Courtesy Large and Co./City of Victoria

Option for low-cost, workers housing in Victoria sent back to drawing board

Councillors not convinced Princess St. proposal is the right way to ease affordability crisis

A spirited discussion over a six-storey, micro-suite condo development proposal saw Victoria council send the application back to staff for further work in hopes that the proposal can be accommodated.

The proposed site at 736 Princess St., currently a parking lot, is in a Rock Bay neighbourhood designated as Core Employment within the Official Community Plan (OCP). That designation aims to help create job opportunities through light industrial and other business uses.

The proposal heard at Thursday’s committee-of-the-whole meeting, recommended by staff to be rejected by council, called for “limited commercial space being proposed on-site … likely to undermine the potential for this site to provide a higher degree of job opportunities,” according to a staff report.

The other side of the argument, put forward by Coun. Jeremy Loveday, urged council to consider the urgent need for affordable workplace housing in Victoria. He pointed to the 75 new residential units that formed part of the proposal; a number he said could substantially increase the overall supply of housing in the area.

That position was supported by councillors Margaret Lucas and Marianne Alto. However, councillors Pamela Madoff and Geoff Young were adamant that the OCP had to be respected and that “kicking out industrial users,” Young said, could set a dangerous precedent.

“We recognize that this is a really hard choice for council, but we need to recognize that Victoria is in a time of crisis. There are jobs out there right now, but people aren’t coming here to fill them because there isn’t an affordable place to live,” Kim Colpman, director of property development for proponent Large & Co., told the News in an interview later.

She called the proposal “truly revolutionary” for how it envisions fully contained units, a cafe, social meeting space and the provision of sustainable transportation. “It’s a game-changer.” she said.

The transportation component would make available for rent to tenants a shared fleet of environmentally friendly vehicles including cars, scooters and bikes.

The staff report also raised the issue of the proposed density of the residential component, which was listed as having a floor space ratio of 4.51:1. The OCP limits residential densities in the Core Employment zone to 3:1, as does the Downtown Local Area Plan with regard to mixed-use buildings.

Colpman explained that such density would allow the units to be sold for well below market value. “We’ve been working with CHMC and have determined that the units we propose will be affordable and be set at or below 30 per cent of median household incomes. This is what is so badly needed in this market,” she said.

At the meeting, such information failed to convince Young to move the project forward.

“This is not the way a council should plan. We have an OCP and it doesn’t make sense to discard it willy-nilly. If we are going to force a change in the OCP, it’s our job to do it in a way that makes sense,” he said.

Mayor Lisa Helps vacillated on the subject, first agreeing to the voices of opposition to the plan and later voicing support for sending the proposal back for more work.

Colpman said later that she’s not sure whether Large & Co. will continue to work toward this project. “We really don’t know what’s possible now. We’re going to debrief, pull back and take another look at it. There has been a lot of time, energy and money already spent on this project and we’ll have to see what happens now.”

editor@vicnews.com

Just Posted

VIDEO: Tent city moves to Woodwynn Farm, arrests made

The group is asking the government to provide housing for 60 tent city members

Cougar spotted Saturday morning in Saanich

Police found paw prints consistent with cougars in the area

Saanich passenger caught smoking weed in a car issued $230 fine

Saanich police did a field sobriety test on the driver and deemed it safe for him to drive

B.C. Guide dogs is looking for volunteer puppy raisers

Labrador retrievers need to learn obedience and socialization before heading to work

Colwood Elementary gets new inclusive and accessible playground equipment

Parks and playgrounds on the West Shore have equipment for everyone

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for Oct. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

Team Canada gold medal winners for first time in world curling championship

Team Canada earned gold in Kelowna at the 2018 Winn Rentals World Mixed Curling Championship

Payette invites critics to ‘come and spend a few days’ with her

Governor General Julie Payette made her first official to B.C. back in March

More pot stores expected in B.C. in coming ‘weeks and months’: attorney general

Attorney General David Eby and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth visited the new BC Cannabis Store in the province’s Interior

Telus launches charitable foundation to help vulnerable youth

The Telus Friendly Future Foundation complements other social initiatives by the company, including Mobility for Good

Police say suspicious death of B.C. artist ruled a homicide

Patrick Zube Aylward’s body was found in a residence on a rural road outside of Seton Portage, west of Lillooet, B.C.

Temporary roads being built in areas affected by landslide in northern B.C.

Emergency Management BC news release says Disaster Financial Assistance is available to eligible residents of the Peace River Regional District who may have been affected by the landslides

Most Read