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Dockside Green resurrection: Two rental projects proposed

A pair of affordable rental housing buildings are being proposed for Dockside Green — the first development on the site in six years.
The Dockside Green development in the Upper Harbour.

A pair of affordable rental housing buildings are being proposed for Dockside Green — the first development on the site in six years.

The housing project, along with an update of the site’s master plan, will mark the resurrection of activity on the 15-acre site on the Upper Harbour, which was once an industrial property.

Affordable housing will be aimed at people working in or near downtown, Robert Brown, president of Catalyst Community Developments Society, said Wednesday. The non-profit Catalyst will develop and own the housing project.

Catalyst has signed an agreement in principle with Dockside Green owner Vancity credit union, which will provide financing, Brown said. When Dockside was originally approved, the City of Victoria was given $3 million by the developer to hold until an affordable housing component was added. A Vancity official said that money will now go to Catalyst to help with development costs. Overall costs are still being established, Brown said.

Affordable housing has been planned as a key component of the much-lauded Dockside Green. It is known for having a triple bottom line that combines economic, environmental and social concerns in its housing, commercial, light industrial and office space.

A development permit application and a minor rezoning request will be submitted to city hall early in 2015, with construction to start late next year and a completion for late 2016 or early 2017, Brown said.

A total of 49 units are planned, ranging from studios of 300 square feet to three-bedroom units of 1,100 square feet. The two buildings will total 30,000 square feet. The sloping site means each building will be three storeys on the side facing Harbour Road and two storeys on Tyee Road.

Rents are projected to be $600 to $1,500 monthly, or 30 per cent of targeted household income, Brown said.

Dockside Green’s original master plan was developed in 2005. So far, 226 housing units have been built, said Ally Dewji, Dockside Green development manager for Vancity.

The revised master plan keeps the density unchanged at 1.3 million square feet. Once built-out in 15 years, it is estimated that 2,500 people will be living at Dockside Green.

The most recent project at the site, finished in 2008, was the Balance complex, with two condominium buildings on Tyee Road. Vancity announced in 2009 that it was taking a “pause” after co-developer Joe Van Belleghem left to work on other projects. Vancity now owns 100 per cent of Dockside. Future developments will be under a partnership arrangement, Dewji said.

The proposed master plan remains true to Dockside’s original principles and follows months of meetings with community interests. The rezoning application will be submitted to city hall by the end of the year, Dewji said. The affordable housing sites do not fall under the master plan rezoning request.

Dockside features include an on-site waste water treatment system, green roofs, glazing and shading to reduce energy use, an exhaust air heat recovery system and energy-efficient lighting.

The new proposal addresses some of the challenges with the original plan, including amenities being tied to dates rather than building phases, too much density along Esquimalt Road, not enough emphasis on overall neighbourhood sustainability, and no chance to use vacant land on an interim basis while waiting for further development.

Under the new plan, some building heights have been changed. A new initiative, Dockside Beta, would lease space to offer socially and environmentally conscious products and services such as a brewery, urban agriculture, art gallery, and food trucks.

The plan also includes a neighbourhood house, added activity areas, kayak and bike storage and a “mutt strut” dog park.

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