Victoria could soon let certain non-market housing projects bypass council and be approved by staff instead to increase needed supply in the city.
Council will vote on whether to adopt the city’s rapid expansion of affordable housing plan following a public hearing during Thursday evening’s council meeting.
The changes would let housing projects that are owned and operated by non-profit, co-operative or government agencies secure the maximum allowable density for the development’s proposed site, as defined in the Official Community Plan. Eligible projects would also have to include at least a 60-year lease to a public housing provider.
To expedite the application timeline, it’s proposed the issuing of development permits be delegated to the director of sustainable planning instead of needing a vote by council. Projects would still have to meet the city’s approved design guidelines and be inspected by the advisory design panel.
In January, staff said the new strategy could cut up to nine months off the application process. Based on previous years, it’s estimated about three applications would be delegated each year. They also noted that senior government funding sources often require projects to already have municipal approval as a condition of applying, so the new process would help providers access subsidies and deliver deeper affordability.
The proposal was spurred in 2020 when council directed staff to support the rapid deployment of affordable and supportive housing with government partners and non-profit housing providers.
Victoria’s housing crisis is seeing nearly half of its 27,720 renter households spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing alone, and about 1,100 people are on the provincial waitlist for an affordable rental in the city, a city report from January said.
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