WIN: 1201 Fort Street (Victoria)
We supported a controversial new development to build 83 new homes along one of Victoria's major urban corridors.

On May 3rd Victoria city council voted 6-3 in favour of an application to build 83 new homes — including nine much-needed townhouses — along one of the city's major urban corridors, with an agreement to include ten below-market rental units in a separate, proposed development a few blocks away. [1]   

The project — by Abstract Developments — was controversial, with more than 100 people speaking at a public hearing stretched over two days. We spoke in favour of this new supply, with the Mayor citing Gen Squeeze (and others) in her concluding remarks. 

Why we supported this project


Here's what we said at the public hearing.

Which can be summarized in three main points:

  1. The pairing of this development with a community amenity contribution at another site will — if that proposal is approved —  increase the supply of below-market rental units in Victoria (or generate a cash payment to the City, but hopefully the former). 

  2. The fact that new units of any kind — to the extent they're genuinely used as primary residences — helps put downward pressure on costs across the system.

  3. As far as densification goes we've seen a lot of, frankly, uninspired designs in this city that don't do much to enhance the look and feel of our neighbourhoods, whereas this development seems to respond cleverly to the many aesthetic and important ecological concerns raised by neighbours.

Some were surprised by our support 


The Mayor, herself, expressed surprise that Gen Squeeze was speaking in favour, and we've had people reach out to us afterward expressing the same.

This may be because our housing work is all about helping to restore affordability, forever...

... and this particular project was not designed to maximize affordability on the site (though recall it is paired with an agreement to build 10 affordable units a few blocks away).

Instead, from what we were able to glean from the developer and other stakeholders, it was designed — and redesigned — primarily to respond to neighbours' concerns over density, setbacks, tree protection, aesthetics and other matters, and to cater to more of a down-sizer demographic (though some young people will be able to afford these homes, too). 

Such that, while we agree with a dissenting councillor's conclusion that it is a "...missed opportunity... to approve development of two acres of land in our built-out urban environment without incorporating a single unit of affordable housing on site in the context of a housing crisis," our understanding was that horse had left the barn. 

And that, were the proposal to have been rejected, we would have almost certainly ended up with a lower quality development built "as-of-right."

At the end of the day, we need more density and diversity of supply, of all types. And this project will help

What's next


We want to help shape a more positive conversation around development in Victoria, and are inspired by the Talk to Aryze project, led by a group of 30-something local developers who're passionate about the potential for beautiful, inclusive, more affordable urbanism in our city. 

We're exploring ways to work with them and others in advance of the 2018 municipal elections. 

See more wins


We’ve been on a roll lately. Learn about our recent campaign successes:

READ MORE

Let’s do more


We want to restore housing affordability for renters and owners — forever.

You can help by becoming a Gen Squeeze Member:

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[1] Mayor Lisa Helps along with councillors Chris Coleman, Margaret Lucas, Charlayne Thornton-Joe, Jeremy Loveday and Marianne Alto voted in favour of the project. Councillors Pam Madoff, Geoff Young and Isitt voted against.

Eric Swanson
About
Eric is the Executive Director of Generation Squeeze.
We supported a controversial new development — which was approved — along one of Victoria's major corridors
WIN: 1201 Fort Street (Victoria)
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