City staff will be asked to look into what would be involved working with the community to initiate affordable housing and various community amenties on the land surrounding the new Crystal Pool replacement facility. (VICTORIA NEWS file photo)

Affordable housing opportunity connected to new Crystal Pool project

Recommendations include placing residential above parking lot required for new recreation centre

Creating even more value for the community is the end goal of an idea to research the implications of building below-market rate housing atop an underground parkade in the block containing Crystal Pool and Central Park.

City staff have determined that approximately 100 parking spots are needed to accommodate users of the planned new recreation facility. Rather than simply building a surface lot, as is currently there, community input has prompted council members to bring the housing concept and other ideas to committee of the whole for discussion at Thursday’s meeting.

The recommendations in the motion ask City staff to investigate and develop a timeline for working with the North Park Neighbourhood and other stakeholders to issue a request for proposals or expressions of interest on providing the housing, plus a variety of services and programs. Among the amenities suggested are a community centre, a welcome centre for newcomers to Canada, a child care facility, community kitchen and any other services not offered through the new recreation facility.

“Why not leverage what would be a surface parking lot and make it into something better?” asked Mayor Lisa Helps, who is co-sponsoring the multi-pronged motion. She called the request of staff “exploratory” research that would also look into funding sources, options for engaging the community in the decision-making process, and how such a project would fit into the Central Park master plan.

“If there’s anywhere where affordable housing and affordable child care is needed it’s in that neighbourhood,” Helps added.

The public/residential parking mix underneath the housing complex would have to be determined, the mayor said. But she noted that developers, especially those working with projects on major transportation corridors, are getting more creative all the time with providing solutions that don’t assume everyone has a vehicle.

The report deadline would be at the next quarterly update.

editor@vicnews.com

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