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Victoria to address policies that currently disincentivize multi-unit homes

Councillors say policies apply to attached homes but not single-family builds
Victoria will start to look at city policies that disincentivize multi-family homes. (Black Press Media file photo)

Victoria will start identifying its policies that are getting in the way of building multi-unit homes in the city.

Council on Thursday passed a motion tasking staff to start tracking city policies that disincentivize new attached homes compared to building brand-new single-family homes. Staff will bring that list of policies to a meeting in the coming months for council to discuss.

Coun. Dave Thompson, who moved the motion along with Coun. Susan Kim, said attached homes are more affordable when compared to single-family dwellings and they’re more efficient in terms of land use.

However, Thompson and Kim’s motion said a number of fees, guidelines, requirements and other policies are currently placed on attached home applications, but not on new detached builds. Thompson said that results in fewer attached homes being built and higher costs.

“Attached housing, frankly, is going to accommodate almost all, if not all, of our future population growth,” he said at a June 1 meeting.

Multi-family homes already make up four-fifths of Victoria’s housing stock, according to the city’s most recent figures. In a late 2022 housing briefing to council, staff said the ongoing need for more housing diversity and affordability has resulted in many families living in homes that are too small, fewer adults forming their own households and job vacancies that could reflect a lack of housing for workers.

Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto said the motion came forward at a good time considering the city on May 31 was selected for the first cohort of communities that will be subject to the Housing Supply Act, which gives B.C. the authority to set housing targets municipalities must meet.

“This will help us begin internal conversation about what we can do to ease processes,” the mayor said at the June 1 meeting.

Alto added that some of the work spurred by the motion will overlap with a review of the missing middle initiative. Staff in September are set to provide an update on proposed changes to that policy, which looks to boost the supply of smaller multi-unit homes across the capital.

“I’m not convinced that it’s going to produce anything near the result I had hoped for,” Alto said on May 31 of the current version of the missing middle initiative.

READ: Greater Victoria mayors welcome being subject to new housing supply targets

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