Letter to Mayor and Council

Re: Interim Inclusive Housing and Density Bonus Policy
November 7, 2018

Dear Mayor and Council –

UDI Capital Region has been engaged with City of Victoria staff since this past spring as a stakeholder in the creation of the inclusionary housing policy.    Our interest in the creation of this policy is twofold, in that we have the opportunity to contribute our expertise to the delivery of affordable housing but yet we must ensure that any new policy does not stifle investment in new projects in Victoria.

We are confused and disappointed by the hurried step to introduce and adopt an interim inclusive housing policy that is based on the recommendations of only one third party consultant, as well as the disregard of the past council’s motion to have planning staff further engage with industry stakeholders in the development of a sound and effective policy.  UDI has been collaborating with the City of Victoria through the last 4 to 5 terms.  We felt as though we were a valued stakeholder and were proud of the trust we had built with staff and council. This goes against all collaboration and good faith built over the years and has introduced more uncertainty to our members and industry.

Our review of the interim policy as drafted for adoption on November 8 calls for clarification on a number of points including:

  • Basing the land analysis on existing zoning of a candidate site and not the OCP base designation contradicts the density bonus housing policy as currently laid out in the Downtown Core Area Plan (DCAP). This may discourage redevelopment of older sites with greater use potential and that have higher designated base densities than their existing zoning allows.
  • The proposed Policy is not clear on the approach to purpose-built rental projects. As written, it exempts 100% purpose built rentals projects from the policy but alludes to requirements for affordability and secured tenure in perpetuity on these projects as well?
  • The Cash-in-Lieu Provision also needs clarification as it suggests that for projects of 10 units or less, a cash contribution of $200,000 per affordable unit may be considered, but then asks for a cash contribution equal to or greater than the cost of the affordable housing?

Our members have been contacting us asking for clarification on the interim policy and are contemplating stalling active and planned projects.  This goes against the intent to build more supply in the city, and in fact, accomplishes the complete opposite in terms of more affordable housing.  However, UDI is ready and willing to collaborate on the end goal of delivering much needed housing to our city.

It is clear that the newly elected council has a strong mandate to address affordable housing, however, we are navigating a challenging and unpredictable path.  Ongoing increases in construction, financing and municipal costs combined with new building code requirements and housing policies will place further pressure on our industry to deliver supply.   We ask that Council take a more diligent approach to this policy through further consultation and analysis.

Kind Regards,

Kathy Hogan – Executive Director
(on behalf of the UDI Capital Region Board of Directors)