The public will get to tell Victoria on Aug. 4 what kinds of housing should be allowed to exist in the majority of the city.
While single-family homes aren’t going anywhere, the city’s missing middle proposal looks to make it so that lots currently zoned for those standalone dwellings could also host smaller multi-family builds.
The initiative would allow for corner townhomes and houseplexes, as well as infill homes on heritage-worthy properties – all seen as important housing types to keep families in Victoria – on lots only zoned for single-family homes.
The missing middle proposal also comes with a set of guidelines that aim to ensure projects fit neighbourhoods, and promote livability by including appealing aesthetics, accessibility standards, integrated parking, minimized privacy issues and greenspace.
Council on July 14 found some compromise, passing Coun. Ben Isitt’s amendment requiring some missing middle townhome projects to include at least one below-market unit when they seek additional density.
Councillors then voted 5-4 to cement the Aug. 4 public hearing date despite an attempt by Isitt to push it to November and make the proposal an election issue.
“There are very strong opinions on various sides of this issue and this council is past its best-before date and I think having the election fought over missing middle would have value,” he said.
Mayor Lisa Helps said families would bear the brunt of rising costs if the proposal was deferred to the next council and any delay could also impact what Victoria receives from a federal $4-billion housing accelerator program.
“We are in the deepest housing crisis and it’s going to get worse,” she said. “There will be cities lining up to get some of that first $500 million and if we boot this down the road, we won’t know if it’s us or not, we won’t even have given the public an opportunity.”
The motion to delay until November was defeated, along with a subsequent motion from Isitt to hold the public hearing Sept. 22.
“If the mover thinks that this council is past its best before date now, it’ll be really past its best before date on Sept. 22,” said Coun. Jeremy Loveday, who voted for the Aug. 4 date.
Couns. Geoff Young, Charlayne Thornton-Joe, Sharmarke Dubow and Isitt opposed sending the proposal to a public hearing.
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