Oak Bay United Church has put a hold on the development proposal for the property on Granite Street, which would have created 36 to 68 housing units. (Black Press File Photo)

Oak Bay United Church votes to pause any development

Anti-development signs disappear from Granite Street

The housing crisis in Greater Victoria will continue, but the anti-development signs planted in front of Oak Bay homes have been removed. At least for now.

Last week the Oak Bay United Church congregation voted to step back and will not move forward with its latest proposal for a rental housing development that would have put between 36 to 68 housing units within 250 metres of Oak Bay Village.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay United seeks entirely new development application

It ends a process that went public in 2017 but started even before that.

The church had decided on the 96-unit proposal it submitted to Oak Bay in 2018. It faced significant push back from a group of neighbours and was withdrawn before the necessary rezoning application ever made it to Oak Bay council.

Anti-development signs have been removed from Granite Street.
(Black Press Media File Photo)

However, the church did not give up on the idea of affordable housing. Last year Oak Bay United reached out to the Property Resource Team of The Pacific Mountain Region, an arm of the United Church of Canada. The property resource team conducted a feasibility study regarding the possibility of a purpose-built rental housing project at the property and brought back three proposals, which range from 36 to 68 units. The study came back with three scenarios and none of them resembled the previous proposal either in the number of housing units or site layout.

Because the church’s goal was to operate rental units, including below-market-rate units, a high threshold was needed to keep the project in the green, said Reverend Keith Howard.

On Sunday the same congregation that voted to explore leveraging the parking lot as a solution to Victoria’s housing crisis four years ago, voted to put a temporary stop on any development.

“We are not closing the door on a future proposal,” Howard said. “The number of housing units that are involved in their proposal, to make it economically feasible, is more than 36 to 68 units. That number is a long way from what we had hoped.”

READ MORE: United Church submits development application to Oak Bay

The original, 96-unit design included 55 to 57 units that would meet the government definition of affordable housing with 35 at market rent. The market units would support those who don’t meet standard government criteria but still need help with affordable housing. There would also have been and four to six larger units with up to three bedrooms aimed to support families.

“It became obvious the proposal was not going to go anywhere,” Howard said. “The proposals were pretty exhaustively vetted. We’re looking at how to be a more positive influence and platform in the community, seeking partnerships, and redevelop the facilities we currently have, and to better serve the community and congregation.”

BC Housing told the church they are still open to further discussion if the United Church decides to proceed.

Coming out of the ordeal, the church learned just how strong and proud the community feels about Threshold Housing, Howard said. The agency is a tenant, having moved in five years ago, and hosts youth in transition in the church’s heritage style house.

“All that we’ve said no to is this particular proposal for development, not closing the door on future development, but it has to be affordable housing,” Howard said. “As the world changes, we are trying to have increased engagement with the community. We’ve learned the importance of doing widespread and deep listening.

“The door is wide open to possibilities, not only to think out of the box, but that we may need a new box.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com

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

 

Anti-development signs have been removed from Granite Street. (Black Press Media File Photo)

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Falling oak tree causes minor damage to Langford home

Tree damages garden and gutters of home on Lindsay Place

Residents to start moving into first of 100 new affordable homes in Langford

Construction underway on second phase of affordable Indigenous housing project in Langford

Saanich police looking to identify suspect in Brydon Park assault

Victim confronted suspect about the way he was treating his dog

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 7

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

POLL: Would you get a vaccine for COVID-19 when it is available?

With the number of positive COVID-19 tests skyrocketing across much of the… Continue reading

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Most Read