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Greater Victoria municipalities feel confident in meeting housing targets

20 B.C. municipalities were named as priority for new housing targets
Six Greater Victoria municipalities were named as priority for provincial housing targets and they are confidant in their ability to meet those targets. (Pixabay).

Greater Victoria municipalities are feeling confident that they will be able to meet new provincial housing targets after a number of them were named as priority communities with “high-need” for housing.

On Tuesday, April 23, the provincial government named six Greater Victoria municipalities to receive housing targets in an effort to lower housing and rental prices across B.C.

Among the list of 20 municipalities across the province to receive the targets, Colwood, Central Saanich, North Saanich, Sidney, Esquimalt and View Royal were named.

View Royal Mayor Sid Tobias said there are some in the community who welcome the announcement, while others are concerned about adequate infrastructure and services to support growth such as daycares, healthcare options, public transportation, sidewalks and adequate roads.

“View Royal has a number of large scale projects underway and in planning that will provide hundreds of purpose-built market rentals in the municipality. There are areas in the town that have been zoned multi-family for years that have not been developed. However, View Royal is looking forward to any partnership that will provide more affordable housing options for the region,” he said in an email to Black Press.

He added there are others who are skeptical that the targets will lead to more affordable housing and if the targets will be met as they are largely driven my market forces, interest rates and availability of skilled workers.

Mayor Barbara Desjardins of Esquimalt, agreed that the township will need infrastructure to coincide with the increased housing demands, and there is still lots of unknowns with the legislation, like when it will actually start.

She did say, however, she feels confident the township will be able to meet the targets.

“We have been moving forward significant housing in the last number of years, there does not seem to be any sign that is going to decrease in the next little while with larger projects continuing to move forward,” she said.

In an email to Black Press, the district of North Saanich said they are currently “undertaking a review of its official community plan and will be addressing housing needs through this process while considering current infrastructure capacity and the rural character of the community.”

In the Town of Sidney, Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith said they are doing their share in helping address the housing crisis when it comes to providing housing.

He said over the last six years, the town has approved the development of about 240 purpose-built rental units, 270 condos and 45 townhouses in addition to building permits for duplexes and single-family dwellings. This year alone, he noted that council already approved developments creating 157 new residential units and on April 22, a third reading was given to allow another project with another 140 more apartment units, including 28 affordable units.

“Geographically, Sidney is the smallest community in the Capital Regional District, encompassing 5.1 square kilometres. Although developing vacant land is no longer an option, the town continues to provide a growing number of diverse housing options for the community,” he said. “The town remains optimistic that we can work productively with the province to create realistic housing targets for Sidney, and we remain committed to doing our part to address the housing crisis.”

In Central Saanich, the district’s infill and densification guidelines, a project they began in 2018 and was adopted in 2021, had laid the groundwork for them to incorporate more diverse housing types into their inventory, such as cottages, suites, small lots and duplexes in residential zones.

Mayor Ryan Windsor said in an email statement “we’ve seen a good deal of new housing built over the past few years here in Central Saanich, we’ve been named by B.C. Business as No. 1 on their list of most economically resilient cities. We’ve done all this while working to protect the Agricultural Land Reserve, which is no less than 60 per cent of the total land base of the municipality and something I’d expect this government would want to keep protecting.”

The municipalities will be meeting with the province to consult on what the targets will be and how the program will work in late May and early June, and specific targets are expect to be released in the Summer.

Read More: 6 Greater Victoria municipalities named for new provincial housing targets

Bailey Seymour

About the Author: Bailey Seymour

After graduating from SAIT and stint with the Calgary Herald, I ended up at the Nanaimo News Bulletin/Ladysmith Chronicle in March 2023
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