British Columbia

Greater Victoria tenants voice concerns over $200M redevelopment project

The residents of the Christie Point apartments in View Royal — a town in the Greater Victoria area — are concerned about plans to redevelop their complex.

Property owner wants 473-unit apartment complex to replace 161-unit Christie Point complex in View Royal

A current view of the Christie Point apartment complex. (Realstar)

Tenants of an apartment complex in View Royal — a town in the Greater Victoria area — are worried about a proposed $200 million redevelopment project that would replace their current complex.

Currently, the Christie Point complex has 161 modestly priced, two and three-storey rental units, located off the Old Island Highway on a picturesque spit of land projecting into Portage Inlet. The units were built in 1963.

In 2016, Realstar — the company that owns the property — filed an application with the town of View Royal to rezone the property for redevelopment.

The proposed redevelopment includes 473 units to be rented at market rates. The units will be distributed among several buildings ranging from four to six storeys in height.

The proposal has been controversial.

Many of the tenants are upset with the prospect of having to move out and then return to potentially higher rents.

Other View Royal residents are concerned their views of the inlet might be obscured by the height of the new development. Yet other residents are worried about increased traffic and the environmental impact of the project.

Listen to Christie Point residents talk about the complex on CBC's On the Island:

Solution to rental crisis: mayor

The rezoning application has gone through two readings by council. A public consultation was held around the application Tuesday night.

View Royal Mayor David Screech attended the hearing. He said there were between 150 to 200 people present and nearly 60 people spoke about the proposed project.

"There was obviously a lot of passion in the room when you're dealing with people's homes and the possibility of them having to move. But all, in all it was a good meeting," he said.

Screech said the developer has offered to grandfather all the tenants who have lived at Christie Point for more than 10 years into new suites at the same rent.

He said Realstar also offered better cash settlements to people who have lived in the complex less than 10 years, and the architect put forward plans to reduce the building height by two metres in a few zones to address the view concerns.

An aerial view of the Christie Point complex. (Realstar)

"My heart goes out to the existing tenants and I understand how truly difficult it is for them. But we're in a rental crisis in the region, because private developers have not been building rental housing since the late 1970s," he said.

"I think we have to weigh everything. When it comes right down to it, I don't know how to solve a problem by saying, 'no, you just can't do this.'"

The application will now go through a third council reading on July 4 with a fourth reading to follow if necessary.

Listen to Mayor David Screech on CBC's On the Island: