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New policy could see more family units in larger Victoria complexes

Council has endorsed setting guidelines for the percentage of two- and three-bedroom units in multi-family projects of more than four storeys
A condominium building under construction in the 900 block of Pandora Avenue last month. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

To encourage more family ­housing in new developments, Victoria council has endorsed setting guidelines for the percentage of two- and three-bedroom units in multi-family ­projects of more than four storeys.

The policy will come into effect Sept. 1. Guidelines call for 30 per cent of all new strata units in a multi-family project to be two or three bedrooms, and 10 per cent to be three or more bedrooms.

For rental projects, the guidelines suggest that 25 per cent of the complex should be family-size units and at least five per cent of those should have three or more bedrooms.

“We have lost a lot of families in the city to places like Langford and we should be building a city that is attractive for families and affordable for families to remain in,” said Coun. Jeremy Caradonna. “So I think this is very much a step in the right direction.”

A city staff report pointed out the market has not been responding to a need for three-bedroom units in rental buildings, citing a 2024 Canada ­Mortgage and Housing Corporation rental-market report ­showing the vacancy rate for three-bedroom units is one per cent and only 18 three-bedroom units have been added to the rental market in the city over the last several years.

The new policy would exempt new multi-unit developments for seniors, supportive housing and non-market housing from being subject to the family-housing ratios.

The policy would allow city staff to offer developers incentives like reduced parking requirements and additional density to build the larger residential units.

Coun. Stephen Hammond said he was disappointed the policy would not apply to non-profit developers.

“I believe the only way that we are going to get anything that’s a decent size, what I consider decent size, is through the non-profit associations,” he said. “I just don’t see the private sector giving what I would consider decent-sized two- and three-bedroom accommodations.”

Coun. Dave Thompson said council needs to accelerate the provision of housing. “We have several thousand homes in deficit already and we have more than a thousand people added to our population every year. Even what this council has approved during this term is too slow a rate.”

Mayor Marianne Alto suggested the city ought to be taking a more critical look at what it can strip away from its own regulations to spur more housing construction.

“If we truly are wanting to build more housing and make it as easy as possible, we need to make this the simplest place to do that,” she said.

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