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Victoria council discusses missing middle housing initiative process

Councillors discussed the consideration process in early December
Victoria’s newly elected council will have its first public discussion on the missing middle housing initiative on Dec. 8. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria’s new council will pick up where its predecessors left off considering the missing middle housing initiative.

Council on Dec. 8 described how the process will proceed after a motion from Coun. Stephen Hammond called for a resolution from a closed meeting on Dec. 1 to be reconsidered.

That non-public session was closed as staff gave legal advice on how the current council could consider the missing middle proposal moving forward. It was decided that councillors were to first receive a report on the previously held public hearing before the initiative came back at a future meeting.

“We discussed the various options about going forward with (missing middle),” Hammond’s motion said. “Our options, our reasoning and our vote should be in the open, for purposes of full transparency.”

After going into another closed meeting on Thursday, council decided to stick with its Dec. 1 decision on the consideration process.

While looking to shed some additional light on the closed meeting, Mayor Marianne Alto said on Thursday that it didn’t include discussions on what’s in the proposal itself.

The previous council – whose members mainly didn’t seek re-election – voted to put a final decision on the proposal in the hands of the new members, partly because the province was expected to announce its own housing-boosting legislation at the time.

The missing middle initiative is one piece of the city’s 40-part housing strategy and would allow corner townhomes, multi-unit houseplexes and some infill housing (on heritage-worthy properties) to be built on lots that are currently only zoned for single-family homes. Builders also have to follow a suite of guidelines that relate to the design, character and amenities to be eligible for the program.

When Victoria released its annual housing strategy review in the summer, the analysis found the city is falling far behind its goals for building housing types that are suitable for growing families.

Staff has previously said the missing middle initiative is key to ensuring families have a place in the city as they pointed to Victoria’s dropping proportions of school children and adults aged 30 to 5o in the last 30 years.

One notable development since the missing middle initiative was referred has been some of the moves expected from the province haven’t come to fruition. At a time when he was still campaigning for the province’s top job, Premier David Eby released a housing platform that included zoning changes in urban centres. Those changes would allow single-family homes to be replaced with up to three-unit dwellings.

Eby announced legislation aiming to increase the housing supply days after he was sworn in, but his Housing Supply Act didn’t include the campaign promise to rezone single-family home areas in cities.

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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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