A proposed 56-unit, five-storey condo building had its way cleared by the municipality this week.
The building, set forth by the Greater Victoria Rental Development Society, is planned for Fourth Street north of Beacon Avenue. The Society asked for and received a variety of financial concessions by the Town, in order to meet its goal of offering lower rents of approximately $800 to $920 per month.
The municipality and the Society, said Chief Administrative Officer Randy Humble, are now working on a housing agreement to ensure affordability for middle-to-low income working people and families.
That agreement would be placed on the land title to ensure lower than market rents will remain in place into the future.
Humble said the Society, which has built similar buildings in the Victoria area, is also working with the Town on putting together its construction plan as part of their application for a building permit, a required step prior to actually breaking ground.
This is the Society’s second try at building attainable housing in Sidney. In 2014, they approached the municipality about buying the Town’s parking lot south of the fire hall on Third Street. That deal fell through after both sides could not reach an agreement on the sale price of the property.
Last year, the GVRDS returned after working with a property owner on Fourth Street to obtain a chunk of land across the street form the Sidney Army, Navy Air Force Veterans’ Association building.
To meet their goal of reduced rents, the Society is including a commercial space on the ground floor. They also sought and received concessions on municipal fees and taxes.
On Monday night, council voted to waive development fees related to the project and gave the Society a 10-year tax exemption on the residential portion of the building.
“Sidney council has been heard for a long time now that there is a real need and demand for affordable, workforce housing in Sidney,” said Mayor Steve Price in a statement.
“This development will provide an affordable option in Sidney to those workers and others. It will also bring more people into the shops and local business in the downtown core.”
The fees waived have been stated to be valued in the neighbourhood of $173,000. The loss of tax revenue and those fees, said Humble, represents the willingness of Town council to accommodate affordable housing.
“It has been a high priority for the council,” he explained. “A part of their (strategic plan) has been to create a more balanced demographic.”
Humble added this is the first project of its kind in Sidney in recent years, saying the Society showed tenacity in continuing to look for a location in town after the first site fell through.
“This is one true option to look at attainable workforce housing in Sidney,” he said.