Victoria council supports motel remake into 153 affordable housing units

A proposal to transform the former Tally Ho motel site at Douglas Street and Burnside Road East into a mixed-use development with 153 units of affordable rental housing will go to public hearing.

The Victoria Cool Aid Society with TL Housing Solutions are proposing a two-phase development of the site at 3020 Douglas St. and 584 Burnside Rd. E.

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Phase One, fronting Burnside Road East, would be a six-storey building that includes 32,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, a second-floor daycare with an anticipated 60 spaces and office space with four levels of residential above.

The 52 tenants in the supportive housing currently being operated by Cool Aid in the former motel will remain in place during construction.

Two floors of underground parking are planned. In all, there will be 141 parking stalls and 204 bike stalls.

“I think it’s well designed and thoughtfully approached,” Coun. Jeremy Loveday said of the proposal. “It meets neighbourhood plans, the OCP [Official Community Plan] and will add vibrancy to the neighbourhood and desperately needed housing.”

“I’m really excited to see the ground-floor commercial, which I think will animate Douglas and continue to enhance the streetscape and make this section more pedestrian friendly,” he said.

Phase Two is planned as a six-storey commercial building. Its construction would begin after all of the 52 tenants at the Tally Ho are relocated into the new housing units.

The housing component will include 106 studio units that would rent to people with annual household incomes between $8,520 and $40,000; 38 one-bedroom units that would rent to household incomes of $11,700 to $49,400; nine two-bedroom units to household incomes ranging between $36,200 and $65,000; and four three-bedroom units for household incomes of between $52,000 and $78,400.

The proposal also includes four live-work units. Cool Aid’s intent is to develop an artist studio in the commercial space and an artist in residence programming to oversee its programming.

Loveday called the work-live component exciting. “The idea of having low-income artists being able to work on site aligns with the work of the Victoria Master Plan, which highlights that many artists living and working in our community are below the poverty line,” he said.

Coun. Sharmarke Dubow said he was pleased with the “thoughtfulness” of the project.

Coun. Laurel Collins said sending it to public hearing was supportable. “It’s really great to hear they are using Step Code 3; that there is not only affordable rentals, but we have ranges of incomes from $8,000 to $78,000. It’s amazing to see that kind of income range happening,” she said. “I’m excited about the daycare, we desperately need it in our city.”

A key feature is a large south-facing plaza “that will act as a medium for social interaction and gathering and bring the multiple users of the site together with the community,” Cool Aid said in a letter to council.

Councillors at committee of the whole on Thursday morning agreed to send the proposal to public hearing, a decision that was expected to be ratified at council late Thursday evening.

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