A commentary by a resident of Victoria.
I read with interest the recent letter to the editor about building hundreds of units of subsidized housing on land already owned by a government agency.
Although Government House is the home of B.C.’s lieutenant governor, she is the representative of King Charles in our province, British Columbia.
I recall that both Government House and its 35 acres of gardens and Garry oak forest below which is a protected landscape are owned by King Charles III and the Royal Family.
It is not clear if the southeast corner below, referenced in the letter, is in the forest or land nearer to the house which has a few early-20th-century structures, which are also probably protected historical landmarks.
However, the concept of “free land” is good, as land is a significant cost for much of our housing in Victoria and throughout the Capital Regional District.
I have been pitching unsuccessfully a similar idea to Murray Rankin, my MLA, almost since he was elected.
However, the large parcels I have suggested are paved parking on bare ground.
Two parcels are the vast expanse of pavement for mainly staff and some visitors at the Royal Jubilee Hospital, Victoria General Hospital and other small health facilities throughout the CRD and Vancouver Island.
The parking can be covered with a deck engineered to support three to five floors of housing for hospital employees, who could then walk to work, and/or police, firefighters and school teachers.
Alternatively, the paved parking lots could be replaced by a smaller footprint for a multi-storey parkade and housing built on the ground on the large remaining portion of now paved ground.
Another site, while not specifically owned by the province, is the vast sea of pavement at the mainly seasonal cruise ship port on the ocean, with views of the Olympic Mountains and the Sooke Hills.
If half of the units were higher-end private condominiums or rental, that income might even pay for the other 50 per cent of the site, to pay the costs to build the subsidized/affordable housing units.
Again, a deck over the ground- level parking, or a parkade at the end nearer the heliport, and with fewer spaces than are currently vacant November to April 1 and never filled when three large cruise ships are in port.
I would assume the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority might be persuaded to share the large sea of ocean front/view acreage, where cars and buses live part-time, with the province.
I believe paved sites owned by the B.C. government et al might be more appropriate than Garry oak forest or landmark accessory buildings at Government House.
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