Please add my support for the plans to expand Townley Lodge from 39 rental units to 67 badly needed affordable housing units for seniors and others. While I do respect homeowners for expressing prudent concerns about changes in their neighbourhood, the following points lead me to support the proposed expansion of Townley Lodge on the current site:
Need: Affordable housing is an urgent need, with vacancy rates at market rental prices under 0.5 per cent.
Responsible landlord: The Greater Victoria Housing Society (GVHS) has been a good manager and neighbour. The community has absorbed Townley Lodge as their ‘normal’ for decades. The idea of affordable housing on that site is not a surprise, or a threat.
Planning: The GVHS plans submitted to the District of Saanich, available online, appear thorough, well thought out and conforming to zoning guidelines, which allow four-storey buildings. The plan mitigates shadow impacts on neighbours and include a new stretch of sidewalk in front to provide pedestrian safety and reduce impact on the street. The new design will enhance the site and likely support area housing values.
Density concerns play both ways: nearby streets have many driveways hosting two or three vehicles. Seniors walking on sidewalks or using transit will not clog the area unduly.
Services: Location, location. People who need affordable housing also need services. The Hillside/Oaklands/Richmond areas offer many important services nearby: transit, schools, college, clinics, community centres, hospitals, green spaces, etc. Residents can walk to many amenities and find easy access to transit on multiple routes.
Saanich council’s role: Add some helpful amenities to mitigate density and safety issues. For example, install a crosswalk at Queenston and Townley serving the school, the church and Lodge residents. Upgrade the traffic light to improve vehicle and pedestrian safety and access from Townley to Richmond.
Saanich council has an opportunity to encourage the development of affordable housing projects. Please expedite the approval of the GVHS’ Townley Lodge proposal.