British Columbia

Affordable rentals would be 10% to 15% of new condos under Victoria proposal

Victoria city staff are pushing for all new strata developments to include a portion of affordable rental units, in a proposal that was approved before council this week.

A one bedroom would be under $800 a month, a studio $684 a month

The affordable housing plan aims to take advantage of the construction boom that’s happening in Victoria as well as address the housing crisis, says Victoria city councillor Jeremy Loveday. (Google Street View)

Victoria city staff are pushing for all new strata developments to include a portion of affordable rental units.

In a proposal that was approved at council last week, 15 per cent of condos downtown and 10 per cent of developments in others part of the city would be set aside as affordable units.

"It's just one more step in the right direction," said Victoria city councillor Jeremy Loveday.

"This will be one more tool in the tool kit to help provide some relief."

Rent rates

In the draft policy, the definition of affordable is calculated at 80 per cent of the city's average rents, as defined by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Based on that formula, an affordable one-bedroom unit would be $800 a month. An affordable studio would cost $684 per month.

"[Those are] rents that are attainable for a bigger portion of population, for sure, than those condos that are going up that are unattainable for many residents in the city," Loveday said.

The plan aims to take advantage of some of the construction boom that's happening in Victoria to address the "acute housing crisis."

"The idea behind this is to try to make the development that's happening work better for residents by making sure that we are getting the type of housing units that we need," said Loveday.

Condo owners' concerns

The move could introduce some complications for strata corporations and owners.

"Looking at the [rent] rates that would be proposed …  it isn't even going to cover the cost of condo fees, strata fees, taxes and insurance every month,"  said Tony Gioventu, executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association of B.C..

In  B.C., ownership in condominiums, apartments or townhouses sharing common areas is often purchased through an owners' corporation under a strata title. The owners elect a council that sets policy for the strata.

Gioventu said he applauds the city's efforts to find "innovative ideas" to solve the housing crisis, but has a lot of questions about how it would work in practice.

"Trying to get it to be solved by incorporating it into market housing for strata corporations has some problems," he said. "People need to consider who is going to actually own these units?"

Details of who will own and manage the units  — which in other jurisdictions sometimes fall under a non-profit housing organization —will be hammered out in further consultations.

The proposal would then come back in the new year for implementation.

With files from All Points West.

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