A subject of countless debates and commentaries that stretched over months, plans for the redevelopment of an affordable housing complex will head to public hearing Nov. 7.
Council earlier this week unanimously read for the first time a bylaw that rezones the site where the Greater Victoria Housing Society plans to redevelop Townley Lodge, an affordable housing complex that the Greater Victoria Housing Society (GVHS) has run since 1967. Council last month all but signed off on a development permit.
GVHS’ initial redevelopment proposal for Townley Lodge encountered resistance from residents in the area, leading to extensive negotiations between GVHS and community members over the final height and shape of the proposal that eventually culminated in the current proposal.
This process started almost exactly a year ago, after council had unanimously postponed a public hearing after GVHS had presented its initial redevelopment proposal. The society was planning to replace 39 low-income rental units for seniors with 67 affordable housing units for seniors, families and the disabled across four housing types, including a four-storey apartment building.
But stiff opposition from residents as well as the Camosun Community Association placed the project in limbo. Council’s decision drew criticism from an unusual coalition of business interests and social justice advocates. Several councillors countered this criticism by noting that council followed due process and that the proponent had failed to secure social licence from the neighbourhood.
Following the postponement, GVHS considered selling the property, then re-invest its proceeds into affordable housing projects elsewhere. However, the project received a renewed lease on life in the spring of 2017 following meetings between GVHS and neighbourhood leaders, and the revised proposal responds to the criticisms aired in late 2016.