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City partners with province on rental housing, community centre on Pandora

The City of Victoria and the province are collaborating to bring 220 non-market rental homes and a community centre to the 900-block of Pandora Avenue. The city spent $9.
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The proposed site of 220 new non-market rental homes and a neighbourhood community centre on Pandora Avenue. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

The City of Victoria and the province are collaborating to bring 220 non-market rental homes and a community centre to the 900-block of Pandora Avenue.

The city spent $9.595 million to buy two parcels of land at 926 and 930 Pandora Avenue last April with plans to address the city’s affordable-housing shortage.

The city said Tuesday it’s partnering with the province to build approximately 170 affordable rental housing units, leased and operated by the Capital Regional Housing Corporation, and up to 50 supportive housing units to be leased by the province. B.C. Housing will choose a non-profit to operate the supportive housing units.

The proposed development, expected to open in 2025, will also include about 19,000 square feet owned by the city on the ground floor for a community centre, a gymnasium and child-care services.

Mayor Lisa Helps said the project will revitalize the entire block and bring a community centre to the downtown core and North Park, both fast-growing neighbourhoods without community centres.

“That’s why the city bought this land. The housing upstairs is obviously a bonus, but we knew that downtown and North Park needed a community centre. And we’re really excited to be able to provide that facility,” she said.

The city is contributing the land, while funding for the project will come from the province.

“This development is incredibly exciting, providing 220 new homes for people who need those homes desperately, as well as delivering amenities to the broader community,” said David Eby, Attorney General and minister responsible for housing. “I would like to thank the City of Victoria and CRHC for bringing this community-building project forward.”

Kelly Roth, executive director of the Greater Victoria Coalition to End Homelessness, said the project will help to build the affordable housing needed in the region.

“It’s really on the right rack in terms of building neighbourhoods and building community,” she said.

Sandra Severs, president of the Victoria Downtown Residents Association, said residents in the downtown core are in need of a community space.

“That’s been something we’ve been talking to the city about for quite some time, so to hear initial plans and to know that that will become a reality was good. It’s very exciting,” she said.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com