Victoria City Council approved the proposed redevelopment of Cool Aid’s Cedar Grove property. The councillors voted seven to one in favour of the renovations during a Thursday night meeting.
Cool Aid says the new building will be more attractive than the existing one and will have better security.
The plan calls for 51 affordable apartments to be added to the site with this redevelopment for a total of 72 units. Ten units will have one-bedroom and there will be 10 two-bedroom units. The rest will be studio apartments. The current tenants will be housed elsewhere while the building is under construction and will be able to return to the building at existing rental rates.
The original building proposal — which Cool Aid brought to the public in October 2018 — included 82 apartments and five floors rather than six. However, neighbours had concerns, so Cool Aid was required to work with their architects to alter the redevelopment plans to align with the Burnside Gorge Local Neighbourhood Plan.
“While we were sad to lose 10 apartments in the redesign, we also strive to be good neighbours who listen and respond. We worked with our architects to make several significant design changes to address these neighbourhood concerns,” said CEO Kathy Stinson in a statement.
A social enterprise coffee shop on the first floor was also added to the designs. The goal was to create a gathering place for the neighbourhood as well as opportunities for employment for the building’s tenants.
Cool Aid estimates that the building will be completed in three years. Thirty homes will be available at moderate rental rates, eight homes will have rents of approximately $750 per month, and 30 homes will be offered at income assistance rates with options for support services.
The Sisters of St. Ann donated $450,000 towards the renovations. Other contributors include BC Housing and the Capital Regional District.
According to their website, Cool Aid has help 550 people find safe and affordable housing. The organization operates 14 apartment buildings in Greater Victoria and has 167 more units in development — including the new units at Gorge Road East.