155-units of affordable housing pitched for Vic High lands in Victoria's Fernwood neighbourhood
MIKE KOZAKOWSKI, CITIFIED.CA
Published April 15, 2019
A land swap between the City of Victoria and the School District of Greater Victoria could yield a $50 million multi-building affordable housing complex immediately west of Victoria High School’s running track.
The Capital Region Housing Corporation (CRHC) is pursuing municipal approvals to develop a 155-unit rental project comprised of two five-storey buildings, a four-storey building and two rows of townhomes on leased school district land.
Spanning nine parcels between the 1200-blocks of Gladstone Avenue and Grant Street east of Chambers Street, the project is envisioned to yield 38 one-bedroom, 97 two-bedroom, 16 three-bedroom and four four-bedroom suites with the townhome component situated at the north end and two five-storey buildings at the south end. The four-storey building will rise to the north of the five-storey buildings.
Parking will be in the form of an underground parkade with around 100 stalls.
An 18-unit townhouse project (operated by CRHC) situated on the northern half of the future construction zone will be razed to make way for construction, as will a building operated by M'akola Housing Society on a BC Housing-owned parcel at the Grant Street end. BC Housing will be required to transition the property to the school district in order for the project to proceed.
In a press release issued last fall in relation to the pending land deal, which the Capital Regional District (CRD) has dubbed as the Caledonia project, CRD Board Chair Colin Plan called affordable housing a “regional priority,” and said the CRD is committed to adding more below-market homes throughout Greater Victoria.
“We are making progress in working with our partners and member municipalities to develop additional opportunities for increasing affordable housing units where they are needed most.”
In exchange for two City of Victoria-owned properties which abut Victoria High School’s western field and running track, the school district will transfer two parcels along Chambers Street at North Park Street to the City. The land swap will bring Fernwood’s Compost Education Centre and a community garden under municipal control.
“We are excited to collaborate with the School District and housing providers as we work towards creative ways to increase the availability of affordable housing for families and residents in Victoria,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps in last fall’s release. “Through this strategic land exchange we will be able to support both an important housing project and ensure that community garden and green space and the Compost Education Centre continue to benefit the community in the future.”
Provided land disposition agreements are reached, the school district completes regulatory approvals for the redevelopment of the properties and municipal approvals are granted by year’s end, construction could get underway 18 months from now and completion would be slated for 2022 or 2023.
Meanwhile work on a $73.3 million heritage restoration and seismic upgrade of Victoria High School, built in 1914, could begin by 2020 with completion by 2023. A decision was made last year to retain the historic school and pursue remediation.
The CRHC is a wholly-owned, non-profit corporation of the Capital Regional District, developing and managing affordable housing for low income families, seniors and persons living with disabilities across the region. The CRHC has 45 buildings and townhouse communities in seven municipalities. Of the 1286 units, 70% are rent geared to income and 30% are below market. The CRHC receives no operating subsidy from regional taxpayers: 75% of funding is generated from tenant revenue and 25% from federal and provincial operating agreements. C
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