A sign outside the Fairfield Community Centre directs people to an open house for information about the Fairfield Neighbourhood Plan. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)

A sign outside the Fairfield Community Centre directs people to an open house for information about the Fairfield Neighbourhood Plan. (Kevin Menz/News Staff)

Fairfield plan ‘counterintuitive’ to affordability aims, says working group member

Plan for Victoria neighbourhood heads to public hearing Sept. 12

A member of the Fairfield Neighbourhood Plan working group is worried the proposed plan will pave the way for the tear down of existing rental housing in the neighbourhood.

“Will these provisions actually see affordable housing in here? No. It will see the destruction of existing affordable housing,” Wayne Hollohan said. “It’s counterintuitive to what the intent is here.”

The plan could be adopted by Victoria’s city council next month. Its latest draft outlines development guidelines for Fairfield, including instruction on building height, form and style. Plans for transportation and public parks are also included, among other considerations.

Hollohan, a member of a working group established to help guide the neighbourhood plan, is a resident of Fairfield, a former president of the neighbourhood’s community association and a former chair of the association’s planning and zoning committee. He said the plan — in combination with an April 11 council motion that directed city staff to prepare an amendment to zoning bylaws to allow fourplexes “as a right” on lots between 6,000 and 7,499 sq. ft. and sixplexes on lots 7,500 sq. ft. or larger — will lead to increased property values because lots will essentially be pre-approved for larger builds. The increased values will incentivize owners of existing rental properties to sell to developers, who will look to build as much square footage as permitted on the land.

READ ALSO: Fairfield plan, council motion create ‘uncertainty’ for average reader: councillor

“All these properties are likely to be the current affordable rental housing,” Hollohan said.

Only two pages of the 113-page Fairfield plan are solely devoted to housing affordability, but other city-wide policies and documents, such as the Victoria Housing Strategy and the recently adopted inclusionary housing policy, will also guide new builds in the neighbourhood.

Mayor Lisa Helps, speaking last month with Black Press Media about the Fairfield plan, said increasing density in the area, and across Victoria, is needed.

“The reality is that we’re in a housing crisis and a climate crisis, and the best way to address both of those is to have more people living in less space. That’s a basic fundamental of housing affordability and climate mitigation,” Helps said. “More people living in less space makes it more affordable and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.”

According to Penny Gurstein, a professor with the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning, increasing supply, alone, will not lead to more affordable housing.

READ ALSO: Developers say Victoria’s affordable housing mandate will further drive rental housing crisis

“Just increasing supply will not create more affordable housing,” she said.

Development, in order to work with a desire to increase affordable housing, needs to be governed by proper policies. Purpose-built rentals — meaning properties built to be rentals — already existing in the neighbourhood must also not be overlooked.

“The most affordable rental housing is existing, purpose-built rental housing,” Gurstein said.

The vision with the Fairfield plan, complemented with other city housing policies, is for new builds to include affordable units, according to Helps.

The city’s new inclusionary housing policy, for instance, requires developers to build 20 per cent of units as affordable housing on projects of 60 units or more. Council’s April 11 motion includes, as a requirement for the “as a right” zoning, that at least half the units in the proposed fourplexes and sixplexes be affordable to very low to moderate income households. The Fairfield plan proposes a rental retention area, and the city is considering rental-only zoning.

The affordability requirements may also drive lot prices down, Helps added.

A public hearing for the Fairfield Neighbourhood Plan is set for Sept. 12.

READ ALSO: City of Victoria considers permanent rental zoning options

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

The buildings commonly known as the White Barn (just of the left, behind the building with the sign) and the Hay Barn, still standing May 3, are slated to come down from the former Woodwynn Farms site in Central Saanich now under ownership of the Tsartlip First Nation. (Wolfgang Depner/News Staff)
Tsartlip First Nation plans to use former Woodwynn Farms property for cattle ranching

First Nation also plans to restock Hagen Creek with salmon

Carey Newman resigned from the Greater Victoria School District’s Indigenous Ad Hoc Committee May 13, citing ‘a pattern of systemic racism.’ (Black Press Media file photo)
‘Pattern of systemic racism’: SD61 Indigenous committee member resigns, calls for change

More than 350 people had added their names in support by midday Friday

The Greater Victoria School District continues to face backlash over its wording and approach to Indigenous learners in its 2021-2022 budget talks. (Black Press Media file photo)
School district’s approach to Indigenous learners leaves Victoria teachers ‘disgusted’

Backlash grows over ‘pattern of colonial thinking permeating the leadership’

Commonwealth Place recreation centre was shut down before 8 a.m. on Friday following a power outage. (Saanich Parks, Recreation and Community Services/Twitter)
Saanich Commonwealth Place closed due to power outage, outdoor classes still running

Indoor classes, programs at pool and weight room halted

Royal Bay Secondary School students paint the crosswalk in front of their school in support of LGBTQ and marginalized members of the community (Royal Bay Secondary School photo)
Senior student leaves mark at Royal Bay Secondary School for LGBTQ+ students

Crosswalk at Colwood school painted in support of marginalized community members

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 11

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

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial prowler acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Steven Shearer, <em>Untitled. </em>(Dennis Ha/Courtesy of Steven Shearer)
Vancouver photographer’s billboards taken down after complaints about being ‘disturbing’

‘Context is everything’ when it comes to understanding these images, says visual art professor Catherine Heard

Trina Hunt's remains were found in the Hope area on March 29. Her family is asking the public to think back to the weekend prior to when she went missing. (Photo courtesy of IHIT.)
Cousin of missing woman found in Hope says she won’t have closure until death is solved

Trina Hunt’s family urges Hope residents to check dashcam, photos to help find her killer

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Restrictions will lift once 75% of Canadians get 1 shot and 20% are fully immunized, feds say

Federal health officials are laying out their vision of what life could look like after most Canadians are vaccinated against COVID-19

Police are at Ecole Mount Prevost Elementary but the students have been evacuated. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Gardener finds buried explosives, sparking evacuation of Cowichan school

Students removed from school in an ‘abundance of caution’

Most Read