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Housing growth falling in Greater Victoria’s active transportation zones: CRD report

Regional strategy calls for growth where 42 per cent of trips involve walking, biking, transit
The amount of new housing built near active transportation hubs in the Capital Regional District has been declining over the past decade. (Black Press Media file photo)

The amount of new housing being built near active transportation hubs in the Capital Regional District has been declining over the past decade.

That information and more was included in the CRD’s annual progress report on regional growth strategy (RGS) objectives. The report was presented to directors at the CRD board meeting on Dec. 8.

By 2038, the CRD aims to have walking, biking or taking the bus make up 42 per cent of all trips. Currently, it also aims to concentrate housing growth in high active transportation areas.

“The RGS aims to keep urban settlement compact and directs new growth to be located where it can be efficiently serviced by transit and active transportation,” the report stated.

Between 2012 and 2015, about 39 per cent of growth in the region’s net new units were built in areas where active transportation accounts for 42 per cent of trips, but that figure fell to 20 per cent for the period of 2016 to 2020.

Among other points outlined in the report, the region has steadily added more affordable housing units since the early 2010s, including more than 1,000 between March 2019 and March 2020. But housing affordability and access remains a challenge across the CRD as rental prices keep rising and the number of available units continues to be an issue.

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As with every year since 2000, the price of an average two-bedroom rental unit increased again in 2020. The average cost of rental units in the region has also outpaced the inflation-adjusted price (which uses the 1992 average rent price as a baseline) every year since 2007.

As rents continue to climb, vacancy rates remain very low, especially for lower-priced rental units. Adversely, the vacancy rate of more expensive units jumped from 1.5 to five per cent between 2017 and 2019. The report said the recommended vacancy rate range is between two to four per cent.

In other areas of concern, the CRD is meeting or progressing towards its targets in extending the Regional Trail Network, and in reducing the number of stormwater discharges that are of high public health concern.

Although the region came in below the provincial average for per capita solid waste disposal in 2019, the CRD’s numbers started rising again that year.

Greenhouse gas emissions fell by less than 10 per cent between 2007 and 2020, well shy of the goal to slash GHGs by a third in that time frame. The report noted the CRD reduced per capita emissions by 23 per cent since 2007, a figure that comes closer to the goal.

However, the trends show that the capital region will not meet its emissions reduction targets of 61 per cent below 2007 levels by 2038 unless greater action is taken, the report said.

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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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