The City of Victoria is again chipping in to assist with building affordable housing outside its boundaries.
Last week, council was asked to consider approving a $420,000 grant from the Victoria Housing Reserve Fund to the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. The grant would assist with the development of 42 units of supportive affordable rental housing called Rosalie’s Village Project.
Located at 4351 West Saanich Rd. in the District of Saanich, the housing would support young single mothers with children who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and vulnerable older women who are referred from transition houses or subsidized family housing.
Even though the application is for a project in Saanich, the Victoria Housing Reserve Fund guidelines support projects in surrounding municipalities as long as they are designed to provide affordable housing for youth and the chronically homeless.
The total cost of the project is pegged at just over $14 million. Approximately 53 per cent has been leveraged through a variety of sources and partnerships. Saanich has committed $172,262.
During a lengthy discussion, several councillors struggled with contributing more than twice as much as Saanich, but Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe noted the proposal does help solve the problem of homelessness since the solution is a regional matter.
In the end, a decision was made to match Saanich’s contribution, and to cover any shortfalls, the funding will be increased to $297,000 if Saanich agrees to do the same.
The project is the second in recent months that council has agreed to fund outside its borders. In September, council voted to match Saanich’s contribution of $112,000 for construction of affordable housing on Quadra Street near Tolmie Avenue.
Coun. Geoff Young noted that project was only 200 feet from Victoria’s borders. Now the city is funding projects farther away, leaving him wondering where the next request will come from.
“Sometimes we have to draw lines and my line is clear. I am not even going to think about projects outside the city,” he said, adding Victoria taxpayers will already be putting $175,000 into the project through contributions from the CRD.
“I, frankly, am having a lot of difficulty finding common sense under this proposal. I can assure you this is not the end. This is only the beginning. There’s going to be a stream of them coming in and they are going to be farther and farther away and our contribution will be less and less until finally this council will determine that its policy has to be reviewed.”