View Royal residents debate affordable housing proposal in a packed council meeting

DCC waiver bylaw to be rescheduled for a later date

Around 65 people packed the chambers of View Royal’s town hall for its latest council meeting to discuss tax waivers for mixed-income housing planned near Thetis Lake.

Those opposed to the development echoed some similar refrains: most acknowledged the need to provide affordable rental housing in town and said they supported of the idea of it but questioned the location and argued the nearly million-dollar tax break was too lenient.

Thetis Lake Apartments submitted an application to create 152 multi-family residential units at near-market or below-market rates on 13 acres of land on the north side of the Trans-Canada Highway.

The resident to speak first said he supported the waiver and claimed after gaining experience while working in government for 15 years that the development is the “exact model that works.”

“It’s so important that we have all demographics of a society in our communities,” he said, adding that “opportunities like this…don’t come often.”

ALSO READ: Project would revive ‘virtually extinct’ affordable housing in View Royal

The location “doesn’t make sense,” another speaker argued. Cars having one road leading into the parking lots of two six-storey rental buildings was not enough, she noted.

“I’ve been friends of many people looking for affordable housing. This doesn’t seem the right fit,” the resident said. She also noted the lack of transportation options would be of concern to the future residents.

“Six hundred metres to a bus stop?” asked a resident who said she lived nearby. She wondered whether children and people with mobility issues could be expected to walk that far during the winter.

Applicant Mike Baier said developers Limona Group regularly receives calls from people inquiring on whether there are any vacancies in the affordable apartment building. “It’s their choice,” he said, noting some would rather live near “beautiful” trails and bodies of water than have a grocery store “across the street.”

Baier stressed getting this far in the development stage takes a long time. “If it doesn’t happen here and now, for some reason, it will not happen anytime in the near future in View Royal, we all know that. This process has taken 18 months so far.”

He added, “Most wanna see affordable housing come along. They really don’t want it in their backyard.”

Council deferred its decision on the bylaw to waive about $926,000 in development cost charges until a later date.

Esquimalt-Metchosin MLA Mitzi Dean spoke about the housing affordability crisis affecting BC, adding the housing crisis has been left to “escalate for so long.” Apartments in the Greater Victoria area have a 1.2 per cent vacancy rate, according to a 2018 CMHC rental market report.

Dean said the costs relating to the project were scrutinized and formulated in order to sustain it for decades into the future.

“For a proposal like this to have reached this stage, it’s had to go through 18 months of processing, with a lot of public servants at BC housing with a lot of expertise as well. There’s due diligence at every stage of the process.”

The town’s chief administrative officer was at one point asked to clarify that the DCC money could only be spent on infrastructure relating to the development itself. One resident noted the DCC could be used as a reserve fund to pay for repairs stemming from increased use of roads, water and sewage in the area from the development.

ALSO READ: Neighbourhood group concerned about proposed Thetis Lake Apartments

Another resident cited provincial DCC “Best Practices Guide” for local government responsibilities that states DCC bylaw must take into account whether the proposed DCC will “deter development” or “‘discourage the development of reasonably priced housing or reasonably priced serviced land.”

“You can’t lose the money you haven’t collected; you can’t lose money you don’t collect in taxes” he added.



swikar.oli@goldstreamgazette.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oak Bay neighbourhoods rocked by blasting activity

Oak Bay seeks new rock blasting bylaw regarding ‘continuous’ noise

VicPD responding to robbery suspect barricaded in building on Cook Street

Residents are asked to avoid the 2300-block of Cook Street

VIDEO: Seal pup and mom play and ‘kiss’ in Oak Bay Marina

BRNKL seal cam captures harbour seal growing up in busy harbour

Sooke minor hockey set to get kids on ice by mid-September

President says re-opening dependent on SEAPARC installing ice in time

UPDATED: Young deckhands backed out of fatal Arctic Fox II trip just before fishboat departed

Inexperienced twin brothers had ‘gut feeling’ and bailed before going to open ocean

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Have you seen Berleen? B.C. pig destined for sanctuary goes missing

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Aug. 11

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Filmmaker James Cameron’s Comox Valley winery up for sale

The director behind The Terminator and Titanic puts Beaufort Winery on the market after six years

B.C. announces multi-year plan to double treatment beds for youth with addiction

This will bring the total number of new beds specific to those 12 to 24 years old to 247 province-wide

B.C. man who nearly died from COVID-19 reflects on one-month battle

Robert Billyard was in an induced coma to ensure his body would not fight the ventilator to breathe

Most Read