Creating the ability to build housing options such as these townhomes near Royal Jubilee Hospital is the goal of a proposed change to neighbourhood residential zoning in the City of Victoria. (Rendering submitted)

Creating the ability to build housing options such as these townhomes near Royal Jubilee Hospital is the goal of a proposed change to neighbourhood residential zoning in the City of Victoria. (Rendering submitted)

Victoria seeks resident opinions on ‘missing middle housing’ proposal

Rezoning neighbourhoods to add density is the goal of proposed change

Victoria’s urban planners are requesting the public’s input on certain trade-offs, as the city considers moving forward with neighbourhood rezoning efforts to accommodate more density in housing.

Housing options for those shopping between the condo and single-family home market – including duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes and townhouses – have comprised only five per cent of Victoria’s building permits since 2012 and have since become “missing middle housing,” or MMH, according to the City of Victoria.

Since the majority of residential neighbourhoods are zoned to accommodate single-family homes – current average selling price roughly $1 million – developers looking to build MMH are often required to rezone plots individually and endure a lengthy process, said city urban planner Malcolm MacLean. In an effort to encourage more of this type of development, the city is considering rezoning a number of residential neighbourhoods to accommodate different housing types, although streetscape tradeoffs would be required.

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“We know a lot of people want to be involved in conversations around zoning changes that enable these housing forms. This is the time to have a really robust conversation about enabling these,” MacLean said. “We really want to get as many people’s feedback as we can to help shape what this zoning could look like.”

The city has hosted two online Ask a Planner engagement sessions and one more remains, Tuesday, Nov. 9 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. To register, for the session, visit engage.victoria.ca/missing-middle-housing/.

An example of a trade-off required to permit more MMH relates to parking, staff explained in a Julty report. Housing meant for up to four families would require as many as four spaces. Placing that onsite could reduce shared green space and the urban forest, while leaving residents to park elsewhere would impact street or laneway parking. The city hopes to hear residents’ preferences on these choices through its ongoing community consultation.

Following the engagement sessions, “it’s definitely too early to say anything conclusive about what we’re hearing (from the public),” MacLean said. The first session on Oct. 30 saw just over a dozen participants at the city’s online meeting. “There are definitely people who are keen to see more of these housing options introduced to the city, and others that really want to make sure the (new housing) will be a good neighbour,” MacLean said.

All feedback received in online sessions will be collected and assembled into a report presented to city council early in the new year.


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