Part two of a public hearing that started nearly a month ago continues Thursday night as Victoria considers what kinds of housing should be allowed to exist in the majority of the city.
The city’s missing middle proposal looks to make it so that lots currently zoned for single-family homes 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 standalone homes.
The proposal also comes with a set of guidelines that aim to ensure projects fit neighbourhoods, and promote livability by including accessibility standards, integrated parking, minimized privacy issues and greenspace.
The city said the initiative is key to ensuring families have a place in the city as the last three decades have seen a net drop in school children and adults aged 30 to 50. However, the city also said the ground-oriented homes will help seniors age in place as it expects the older demographic to double over the next 20 years.
At the first half of the hearing, supporters told stories of community members eventually being forced out of the city after navigating the precarious local market. Opponents said it would change neighbourhoods too much and some wanted a more scaled-down version. Some opponents said they weren’t adequately consulted while a health-care worker in favour said they’ve bounced between five rentals since engagement began in 2019.
Victoria has also positioned the policy as just one piece of a more than 40-part housing strategy focused on the entire continuum of living spaces.
“What’s proposed through the missing middle housing initiative is not a silver bullet for the affordability crisis, but by addressing a critical gap in housing choice and availability, it does play an important role in helping our overall housing system and our local economy function well,” Malcolm MacLean, a community planner with the city, said at the first hearing.
The city’s recent housing review found missing middle homes are one of the main areas where it’s falling short. Those housing types made up four per cent of all the housing units approved in the last decade and accounted for two per cent last year.
The initiative has also gained some national attention recently as the Globe and Mail’s editorial board called for it to be adopted. The paper noted, like other Canadian cities, Victoria’s deliberate zoning policy is causing a lack of housing and contributing to surging prices that are unattainable for the demographics needing them.
Ways to participate in the public hearing are available at bit.ly/3R8SMZ2.
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