A land swap deal approved Monday night will put upwards of 150 affordable housing units on Gladstone Avenue and more than $4 million in the Greater Victoria School District’s pocket.
The District is leasing out 2.15 acres of land to the Capital Regional Housing Corporation (CRHC) to use for the ‘Caledonia Project,’ a proposed 154 affordable-unit, five-building development spanning from Gladstone Avenue to Grant Street. A townhouse complex at 1211 Gladstone Ave. will be demolished for the project.
School District 61’s (SD61) decision centres on seismic upgrades needed at Vic High, ranked as the most vulnerable in terms of school buildings in the province. The most basic upgrades on the 105-year-old building are priced at least $70 million, but the District opted to retain the heritage values of the building – a most expensive option that left them with a $2.6 million shortfall, even with the province’s $77.1 million commitment.
A 60-year lease on the land will cost between $4.1 and $4.5 million, covering the seismic upgrade shortfall as well as amenity enhancements. The land “swap” portion of the deal comes from the City of Victoria, who will exchange the Gladstone Avenue property for land closer to the school – increasing capacity at the secondary institution by more than 200 students.
“This arrangement demonstrates that when local governments work together to solve problems, the community benefits,” said SD61 Board Chair Jordan Watters in a statement. The District’s current plan is to relocate students to S.J. Willis Education Centre for fall 2020 and have them back in the upgraded high school by fall 2022.
SD61 will issue a public surveys over the next few months to find out what kinds of amenities the community wants to see at Victoria High.
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