Victoria council eyes microhousing on Cook Street

The City of Victoria has given the thumbs up for a local organization to take the initial steps to build a microhousing unit on Cook Street.

A rendering of what a microhousing unit could look like on Cook Street. The unit would help house some of the city’s homeless population.

The City of Victoria has given the thumbs up for a local organization to take the initial steps to build a microhousing unit on Cook Street to help house some of the city’s homeless population.

Council recently voted to allow MircoHousing Victoria to apply for a temporary use permit to use the city-owned parking lot at 2582 Cook St. as a site for the possible development of a microhousing complex.

The complex, in the Hillside-Quadra neighbourhood, would be roughly 1,300 square feet and would house six people with a shared living room, kitchen, bathroom and laundry facilities. It’s a modular design that can be constructed and deconstructed quickly, and could be built in roughly six weeks.

The idea of microhousing initially sprang up in Seattle as a way to bridge the gap between overnight shelters and the development of permanent affordable housing.

MircoHousing Victoria’s pilot project would cost approximately $150,000, or $25,000 a unit.

Coun. Marianne Alto said MicroHousing Victoria has come up with a “unique gap-filler” to the city’s affordability and homelessness issue.

“I don’t think anyone suspected at the moment that this is the only solution to affordability and homelessness, but it certainly can be one of the solutions,” Alto said.

“These are not isolated shelters, these are homes where you have six people together with individual rooms, shared facilities, but they also share a community and one of the things we’ve learned so well in the last year or so in trying to facilitate more shelter space is to understand part of that journey is not just being isolated, but providing a transitional space.”

MicroHousing Victoria has already reached out to a number of community associations for input, but more public input is necessary before council gives the official go-ahead, said Mayor Lisa Helps.

“We have a real propensity to amplify the negative. So now everyone is going to have images of people packing up their tents at tent city and moving over to this site,” Helps said.

“What if it’s five women who are now living in tents at My Place. They’re stabilized maybe even working. Wouldn’t we want those six women living in this six-person bungalow than in a tent in a gym? That’s what I’m hoping for. That’s what I want.”

Coun. Margaret Lucas was also in favour of the project, but advised MicroHousing Victoria to slow down the process as it could potentially be a model for others to emulate if it’s successful.

Coun. Geoff Young voted against the project, saying the costs are high if the structure will only be there for three years.

“If it is temporary, the costs are very high. We’re supposed to change the sidewalk, provide the hydro and sewer hookup, bring in the buildings, the foundations and I suspect that if you divided out the costs, including what we’re paying, and the other costs, it wouldn’t be cheap housing, it’d be fairly expensive housing,” he said.

“We want to focus on the long-term on getting housing provided by providers who are working with federal and provincial funders. I think we should put our money towards warm, dry temporary shelters.”

The proposal is still in the initial stages. The approval means staff can initiate negotiations to work with MicroHousing Victoria to develop terms of lease of use of the proposed site.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Helping others, especially those struggling with mental health issues, keeps MOD Pizza owner Jim Hayden cooking. (RIck Stiebel/News Staff)
A 1900s writing box found in Greater Victoria contained ink, photos and a letter addressed to Clara McCaubry dated October 14, 1898. (Photo courtesy Suzanne Hervieux)
Mysterious 1900s writing box finds a home among Saanich Archives

Wooden chest owned by early Saanich resident Clara Isabelle McCaubry

(Black Press Media file photo)
Spooky online class cooks up funds for Greater Victoria Imagination Library

United Way Greater Victoria offers how-to for witch cookies, tasty coffin as fundraiser

Murray Rankin has announced he will seek the nomination for the Oak Bay Gordon Head riding in the 2021 provincial election (which could happen in the fall of 2020). The former Minister of Parliament for the Victoria riding from 2012 to 2019.
(MurrayRankin.com)
New Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Murray Rankin says he will use his federal connections

Rankin said being part of NDP majority government gives him a strong voice

NDP Leader John Horgan celebrates his election win in the British Columbia provincial election in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan celebrates projected majority NDP government, but no deadline for $1,000 deposit

Premier-elect says majority government will allow him to tackle issues across all of B.C.

FILE – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau greets Premier John Horgan during a press conference at the BC Transit corporate office following an announcement about new investments to improve transit for citizens in the province while in Victoria on Thursday, July 18, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Trudeau congratulates Horgan on NDP’s election victory in British Columbia

Final count won’t be available for three weeks due to the record number of 525,000 ballots cast by mail

Comedic actor Seth Rogen, right, and business partner Evan Goldberg pose in this undated handout photo. When actor Seth Rogen was growing up and smoking cannabis in Vancouver, he recalls there was a constant cloud of shame around the substance that still lingers. Rogen is determined to change that. (Maarten de Boer ohoto)
Seth Rogen talks about fighting cannabis stigma, why pot should be as accepted as beer

‘I smoke weed all day and every day and have for 20 years’

NDP Leader John Horgan elbow bumps NDP candidate Coquitlam-Burke Mountain candidate Fin Donnelly following a seniors round table in Coquitlam, B.C., Tuesday, October 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Horgan, NDP head for majority in B.C. election results

Record number of mail-in ballots may shift results

The Canadian border is pictured at the Peace Arch Canada/USA border crossing in Surrey, B.C. Friday, March 20, 2020. More than 4.6 million people have arrived in Canada since the border closed last March and fewer than one-quarter of them were ordered to quarantine while the rest were deemed “essential” and exempted from quarantining. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Majority of international travellers since March deemed ‘essential’, avoid quarantine

As of Oct. 20, 3.5 million travellers had been deemed essential, and another 1.1 million were considered non-essential

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Most Read