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‘We are on fire’: Victoria to study measures to ease housing crisis

A host of existing and new policies will be looked at before a report goes to council
The City of Victoria will study a number of measures that relate to adding housing. (Black Press Media file photo)

The City of Victoria will study a number of measures centered around tweaking current housing policies and potentially adding actions to the existing strategy.

Those studies were prompted by two councillors asking for staff to draft reports with implications and recommendations on a wide range of measures like making house conversions more flexible, allowing more suites on certain properties and removing parking minimums in much of the city.

Couns. Dave Thompson and Krista Loughton raised the motion, with the latter saying her motivation came from a deep concern around the increasing rental prices in the city.

“Sixty-one per cent of us are renters and the housing crisis is disproportionately harder on renters compared to homeowners,” Loughton said at the Jan. 5 committee of the whole meeting.

“We are on fire, we need to put the fire out.”

“Too many residents are being forced out of the city in order to find suitable housing,” Thompson said.

The motion calls for staff to look into amending current house conversion regulations to allow for a wider range of homes by relaxing or removing restrictions.

“The nice thing is it’s of zero cost for the government because homeowners are doing this for us,” Thompson said.

Another topic in the motion called for exploring permitting three suites in areas currently zoned for single-family homes or duplexes, allowing suites on smaller lots, making it easier to build garden suites or tiny homes and allowing additions that would have to be used as secured rental.

Parking was another area eyed by councillors, as the motion also includes studying the implications and possibilities around removing parking minimum requirements “for most or all Victoria homes and lots.” That section also included transit, active transportation and accessible parking spaces proposals.

Other aspects of the motion would have staff study opening up more units in the city that are being used as short-term rentals and endorsing the calls to action of 14 non-profit housing providers that make up the Vancouver Island Housing Leadership Network.

Before council passed the motion to study the measures, discussion centred around councillors in favour who said the motion was just a way to get information before taking action, while others looked to have the housing measures lumped into the upcoming strategic planning process.

READ: Housing crisis takes centre stage in Greater Victoria Follow us on Instagram. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.