I really took offense with Chris Campbell’s opinion column in the Feb. 9 Oak Bay News. While I agree that Victoria has a lack of missing middle housing options, the approach that Mr. Campbell has taken is very one-sided.
First off, Mr. Campbell compares a three-storey townhouse development proposal in Saanich to the monstrous developments now built in Vancouver. I see this as comparing apples to oranges.
Mr. Campbell has just moved here from Vancouver, as I did years back, however, many residents of Victoria moved here to escape the big cities and the problems that go along with them. Simply stated, we don’t wish to follow in Vancouver’s image and that is why many people speak out to protect their neighborhoods. And in my own experience, smaller townhouse developments can quickly become followed by much larger acts such as the Abstract luxury condo development on Bowker. Where’s the middle housing there?
Secondly, if you are increasing density, which is a given once you add housing to neighbourhoods, you must also grow resources. This must include services such as clinics, hospitals, recreation facilities and green spaces.
A perfect example of overcrowding can be witnessed with the temporary closure of Crystal Pool. This has been an eye-opener for many people as other pools and facilities now are filled to capacity. An increase in community services simply must parallel an increase in density.
Thirdly, I couldn’t help but feel a bit perplexed as I thought back to an article by Chris Campbell in the Feb 2 Oak Bay News. This article featured a $10 million property for sale in Uplands with a home over 14,000 square feet. So it’s fine to add density to communities as long as it’s not in wealthy neighborhoods like Uplands? At least that’s the message I take from this article.
Mr. Campbell also included the plight of his daughter who is renting in a shared household which he didn’t seem to find very adequate. It described perfectly the first shared house I lived in during the late ’70s in Victoria. Rent was much cheaper then but that still didn’t make it affordable for some. And really, it wasn’t so bad. I just feel lucky that I wasn’t living on disability as many are these days, allowing them $375 monthly for rent. There was no mention at all of this population in Mr. Campbell’s column.
I believe it is important to preserve and stand up for the things which are important to us. I love the unique character and accessibility aspect to living in Victoria and feel we should densify gently and with thoughtfulness.