Re: Helps, City strategies far from enhancing quality of life, and Future housing opportunity promises hollow (Letters, July 13)
The people who tend to oppose new development in their community often have home security. This is certainly the case for many letter writers to local newspapers, who claim that Mayor Lisa Helps has disadvantaged “working individuals” and “the younger generation of modest income” through her ambitious housing strategy.
Their letters fuel an anti-development narrative with the idea that new housing developments are of the wrong type (i.e., luxury condos, pied-a-terres, short-term vacation rentals, etc.) and that rapid development threatens the character of our neighbourhoods. This sentiment – let’s call it “neighbourhood protectionism”—is mostly shared amongst people who cannot be considered “the younger generation of modest income.”
As a 26-year-old renter who has lived and worked in downtown Victoria for the last four years, I do appreciate the concern for those of my position and living situation, but I am more concerned that the current angst around development does not come from those it supposedly disadvantages the most. Instead, home and condo owners speak on our behalf.
I actually support the rate of housing development in Victoria, as do many of my peers who rent. New apartment buildings increase the supply of available rental units and new condominiums provide opportunities for first-time buyers to exit the rental market, subsequently reducing demand for rental units. Over the last four years, city hall has attracted much-needed investments in housing, and now over 1,000 units are under construction.
It seems that the answer to whether our mayor and council are effectively addressing the affordability crisis depends on who you talk to, so we should not assume that others see things exactly the way we do.
Some things we can all agree on though. Victoria has a lot of character: that’s probably why so many people want to live here and we have affordability issues. We all want to respect and preserve the city’s character because we are all in this together.