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158-unit affordable housing development moves forward in Victoria

The five-building complex will be adjacent to Vic High’s track, aiming for 2024 completion
The red box outlines the plot of land where the Capital Region Housing Corporation’s Caledonia redevelopment will be in Fernwood. (Photo courtesy of Capital Region Housing Corporation)

Victoria council on Oct. 28 approved the rezoning and development permit for a project that will bring 158 affordable-housing units to the Fernwood neighbourhood.

The project will see the Capital Regional Housing Corporation (CRHC) replace its existing Caledonia townhouse complex with a five-building residential development. The land to be redeveloped runs between Gladstone Avenue and Grant Street and is adjacent to Victoria High’s track.

The units are for low- and moderate-income individuals, families and seniors and will be spread across three townhouses and two apartments. The townhouses will be on the north side and include 61 two-, three- and four-bedroom units. The remaining 97 spaces will be spread across the four- and five-storey apartments on the south side. Overall, 15 units will be accessible.

Of the 158 spaces, 20 per cent will be for those requiring income assistance, half will be geared-to-income units (meaning rents don’t exceed 30 per cent of a family’s monthly gross income) and 30 per cent will be rented below market level.

The layout will create pathways that extend from the end of Caledonia, Vining and North Park streets, straight through to Vic High.

“The orientation and openings in the buildings create a network of paths that interconnect the neighbourhood,” said Rob Whetter, an architect of the project.

The housing corporation said underground parking and the building layout will create a “pedestrian-oriented, park-like setting.” The site will include 148 trees, up from the 58 currently there, the CRHD said.

READ: Childcare spots, artificial turf field, non-profit space included in Vic High expansion

The development also includes a 1,500 square-foot multi-purpose space for community and resident use, several kinds of gardens, patios and a greenway that aims to be a buffer to the adjacent track.

Capital Regional District spokesperson Andy Orr said with council’s recent approvals, the next steps will be obtaining building and demolition permits. Demolition of the existing 18-unit complex is expected to take place in the first quarter of next year, with the CRHC looking to start construction by the third quarter of 2022.

With a 30-month construction timeline, the housing corporation hopes to complete the project by late 2024, Orr said.

At an Oct. 28 public hearing, slightly more members of the public supported the project than opposed it. Most of those in favour were Fernwood residents, with many glad to see affordable housing coming to their neighbourhood. Most of those opposed were concerned about impacts to Vic High’s track and sports field.

The 18 families living in the existing townhouse complex were re-homed months ago in anticipation that the project would move forward. Those tenants will be offered spots in the redevelopment once it’s completed.

READ: Victoria council to hear developer’s counter on Harris Green rental housing proposal

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Jake Romphf

About the Author: Jake Romphf

In early 2021, I made the move from the Great Lakes to Greater Victoria with the aim of experiencing more of the country I report on.
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