Mayor Helps and Council City of Victoria No.1 Centennial Square Victoria, BC V8W 1P6
September 1, 2018
Re: 930 Fort Street – Community Amenity Contribution – Misdirection of $100,000 to Affordable Housing Fund
Dear Mayor Helps and Council,
The Downtown area is the most rapidly densifying area within the CRD. Victoria’s Downtown residential population is projected to grow to over 10,000 people within a decade. It is essential that this extreme and rapid densification be accompanied by the provision of amenities that will maintain liveability for residents. Currently there is a complete lack of action on the provision of community amenities within the Downtown Harris Green neighbourhood and we at the DRA hear residents clearly and loudly expressing their dissatisfaction with the status quo.
Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) from development are supposed to provide the much-needed funding to provide amenities that are essential to a liveable and sustainable Downtown residential community. Council is well-aware that the current CAC policy is a complete failure. That the City’s Downtown Core Area Public Realm Improvements Reserve has a balance of a paltry $153,000 after over a $1 billion in development clearly demonstrates the deficiency.
While it is self-evident there has been a failure to collect any CACs of consequence from the staggering value of development in our community in the past decade, the OCP in Section 6.11 does concisely define the amenities that are to be provided from density bonus funds that are collected from projects within the Downtown Core Area. It states:
Maintain density bonus provisions to ensure that as the Downtown Core Area develops, public amenities are secured in the development process…with a focus on public realm improvements in the downtown Core Area or the conservation and seismic upgrading of heritage properties.
While there is an obvious need for affordable housing within the region, the required mechanisms and resources must be developed in conjunction with other levels of government. Additionally, the OCP is clear on where CAC funds are to be allocated. On August 9, 2018, Council entertained a motion to ignore the OCP provision for fund allocation after the public hearing for 930 Fort Street was closed. The fact that Council is considering misdirecting these funds away from essential amenities without public input or an amendment to the OCP is extremely problematic. The CACs that will be collected from the 930 Fort Street proposal represent one of the most significant contributions over the past decade. Council suggests misdirecting almost half of the CACs to the Housing Affordability fund despite the fact that it maintains a significant balance of almost $1,800,000. Strangely absent from Council considerations was the lack of concern expressed of the possible need for an OCP amendment to facilitate this motion.
It is a failure of Council to insist that the core area accept the majority of growth for the region and then not provide the necessary mechanism to provide amenities to support that growth. Council now seeks to compound this failure by seeking to appropriate what little funds are collected to misdirect to another initiative without consultation or necessary amendments to the OCP. For these reasons the DRA does not support the diversion of any amount of funds away from their originally intended and much needed purpose.
Municipal residents often have difficulty determining who on Council deserves support when they exercise their franchise. This particular Council vote will be an excellent opportunity for Downtown residents to identify and take note of those Council members who genuinely support the basic and essential livability priorities for Downtown and Harris Green residents.
Chair Land Use Committee Downtown Residents Association
cc COV Planning