$100-million loan creates lower-cost housing in downtown Victoria

As many as 227 new rental homes in Townline’s final building in the Hudson District will be made affordable thanks to a $100-million loan from the federal government.

Ottawa has provided financing through its Rental Construction Financing initiative, which was launched in 2017 as part of the National Housing Strategy to increase the supply of new purpose-built rental housing for middle-class households.

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Chris Colbeck, vice-president of Townline, said offering affordable units in the project would not have been possible without the low-interest loan.

“The RCFI funding provides the industry an opportunity to create more affordable purpose-built rental projects that would otherwise never be supplied, which ultimately would result in a tighter and less affordable rental market for tenants,” he said. “Not only does this ­program benefit tenants, it is a catalyst for much needed job growth and employment.”

Colbeck said the addition of rental units will alleviate some of the pressure on the rental market and the resulting rent increases. The vacancy rate in the region is about 2.2 per cent, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

“In Victoria, three out of five residents rent their home. Which is why developments like the Hudson Place 2 are vitally important to building a community for everyone,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. “I would like to thank Townline for their commitment and for digging in and responding to the needs of accessible, affordable rental homes in downtown Victoria, in addition to working to minimize the greenhouse gas emissions of their project.”

Ahmed Hussen, the federal minister of families, children and social development, said: “Homes that are affordable, accessible, and energy ­efficient represent our government’s commitment to making sure the housing needs of local ­communities across British Columbia, including in Victoria, are met.”

Hussen suggested an affordable downtown building may help middle-class families, who have had to consider living far from the city centre and their places of work because of the lack of affordable homes in the core.

Hudson Place 2 is the final residential building to be established in the Hudson District.

The district has five other residential buildings and features the tallest building on the Island, the 85-metre tall Hudson Place 1.

The Hudson District revolves around the former Hudson’s Bay department store between ­Douglas and Blanshard streets and includes a mix of 950 rental and condominium units and a retail component that includes Victoria Public Market.

The federal government said the financing initiative has been expanded to offer nearly $26 billion to encourage developers to build affordable rental housing. The hope is it will eventually build 71,000 units across the country through the course of the 10-year, $55-billion National Housing Strategy.

In Victoria, the fund has also underwritten the 120-unit Orono Place in Langford, built with a $31.5 million federal loan, and a 60-unit rental project at 840 Fort St., built with a $13.5 million loan.

Hudson Place 2 is under construction with an expected completion date in the summer of 2022.

The lease rates for the affordable units will be established in the spring of 2022, and will be set at 10 per cent below a market appraisal done at that time.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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