Newly proposed urban place designations for the Fernwood, HIllside-Quadra and North Park neighbourhoods. (Courtesy of the City of Victoria)

Newly proposed urban place designations for the Fernwood, HIllside-Quadra and North Park neighbourhoods. (Courtesy of the City of Victoria)

Victoria releases proposed plans for Fernwood, Hillside-Quadra, and North Park

Neighbourhood plans aim to increase supply, make liveable village centres

Two years of public engagement has resulted in draft plans for three neighbourhoods as the City of Victoria aims to boost housing possibilities while improving livability.

The neighbourhood plans for Hillside-Quadra, North Park and Fernwood have four key objectives: enhance the diversity of housing, make it safe and sustainable to move around, support walkable villages within the city and create joyful public spaces.

The city’s housing capacity was a top concern arising from public feedback. That sentiment comes as the most recent housing needs assessment found supply isn’t keeping up and affordability has become an issue for renters and owners alike.

Victoria needs to add 11,000 homes in the next two decades, according to the assessment. To address capacity, the city proposed adding three new urban place designations that would make way for low to mid-rise apartments and other multi-unit housing styles.

Those would replace many spots within Hillside-Quadra, North Park and Fernwood that are currently designated as traditional residential. That potential for denser housing in strategic locations would be complemented by more small urban villages popping up in what the city said are underutilized spots.

The aim is to ensure more people living in the three neighbourhoods have easy access to shops and commercial amenities nearby.

READ: City of Victoria adopts ‘historic’ affordable housing process

The city is also considering piloting rental tenure zoning in the three neighbourhoods for areas identified as lending well to growth and change.

The proposal would allow further density and height, to a scale envisioned in the site’s local area plan and official community plan, for properties being redeveloped as purpose-built rentals.

The neighbourhood plans provide a deep dive into each specific location, including current character, while pushing development in specific spots to make livable villages.

Due to the feedback from neighbourhood residents, new guidelines look to promote “car-light” living with priority given to adding street trees, expanding green spaces and improving sidewalks to make streets more people-friendly.

The city also wants to tackle the housing and climate crises at the same time, staff said, by making sure access to transit is tied to denser developed areas. Buildings and transportation are two of the largest local greenhouse gas emission sources.

Karen Hoese, Victoria’s sustainable planning and community development director, said the housing types being built now will influence who can and will live in the city.

“If we continue as we have in the past, the patterns we see today will continue to become further entrenched, with many new families unable to stay in the city and an increasing proportion of seniors and a lack of attainable and affordable housing.”

Council will vote later this month on sending the neighbourhood plans and official community plan amendments needed to implement them to a public hearing.


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