A digital rendering shows what the 200 Cook St. development will look like. A 388 square-foot studio apartment will rent for $1,600. (File contributed/ Urban Core Ventures)

‘Affordable’ a matter of perception for downtown Victoria development

Local residents confused about prices at new rental complex in Cook Street Village

In 2018, the federal government announced that funding would be awarded to Urban Core Ventures, a Victoria-based developer, for converting its upcoming condominium development into a purpose-built rental building.

With funding from the federal Rental Construction Financing Initiative (RCFi) The Cook Street Village Project at 200 Cook St. would now consist of 47 rental units, of which 21 would be affordable units and five fully accessible units. The 21 units would be priced at 30 per cent below the median household income of the area, while the remaining units would be offered at 10 per cent below market value.

READ MORE: Cook Street Village condo project to become rental building

Since the project has taken shape many people have expressed interest in the units, especially if it comes at an affordable rate, but many have also received a shock at the prices.

Chris Stiebel and his partner were just two of the people to feel this way when they received communications back from Urban Core Ventures about rental options. The quote they received was for the 10 per cent below prices.

A 388 sq. ft. studio would start at $1,600, while a 1243 sq. ft. three-bedroom unit would start at $3,850.

“It’s outrageous,” Stiebel. “We realized that it as just typical of Victoria, and thought ‘Oh great, another expensive place.’”

Paying $1,600 per month for a studio suite would equate to $19,200 per year in rent, well above 30 per cent of the median Victoria income, which the 2019 Vital Signs report lists at $37, 481. That is without the $150 quoted for monthly parking rates.

“The place we live in now is cheaper than that,” Stiebel said.

But the issue isn’t about whether or not the unit is affordable to the average city resident; it’s if the idea of affordability falls under the federally-recognized definition of affordable. The Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation defines affordable housing as “When a household spends less than 30 per cent of its gross income on acceptable shelter.”

That’s the difference: household income – potentially the incomes of several people, but likely a couple. This is despite the fact that a less-than-400 sq. ft unit would likely only house one person.

The 30 per cent mark is also determined by the median household income of the area, which will vary across the country.

ALSO READ: What is ‘affordable housing?’

Urban Core Ventures president Leonard Cole said that in the project’s area, the median household income sits somewhere around $95,000.

“Everyone has their own perception of affordable,” Cole said. “Some people think it’s subsidized housing, but it’s not.”

Despite government definitions the prices at The Cook Street Village Project are well out of the comfort zone for Stiebel, who like many others will continue to look elsewhere.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Saanich roads doused in more than 300 tonnes of salt during snowstorm

Crews cleared roads around the clock during the mid-January storm

Hydro pole fire closes portion of Metchosin Road in Colwood

Motorists are advised to avoid the area of Metchosin Road near Royal Bay

Funds raised through off-road cycling event will help improve Central Saanich bike trails

Tripleshot Cycling Club presents $3,000 cheque to Nature Trails Society

‘We thought it was an earthquake,’ homeowners okay after tree falls

Mature tree falls on roof of Victoria Avenue house

VIDEO: The Victoria byelection leads a selection of today’s news stories

A selection of Greater Victoria top stories for Jan. 17

Theft victim confronts suspects with baseball bat on Vancouver Island

RCMP in Nanaimo seek to identify of two people alleged to have used a stolen credit card

Closed mills, housing surge support a positive forecast for lumber industries

B.C. lumber producers have closed mills accounting for 18% of province’s capacity, RBC report says

Kelowna’s ‘Baby Mary’ finds biological parents after more than 30 years

Geneologist and DNA test helped her connect with her biological parents

Clerk bruised, traumatized after armed robbery at Nanaimo liquor store

Few details on male suspect in Wednesday incident, says Nanaimo RCMP

One last blast of winter tonight for parts of the Island before temperatures on the rise

A snowfall warning is in effect Friday including east Vancouver Island.

POLL: Has the recent snow had an impact on your daily life?

Old Man Winter had Greater Victoria in his icy grip this week.… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

Most Read