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Gorge Road affordable housing called a 'detriment'

May 18 2012

Gorge Road shouldn't become a dumping ground for affordable-housing projects, says Victoria Coun. Shellie Gudgeon.

"We're loading Gorge Road with all of our affordable housing and I think that's a detriment to the neighbourhood," Gudgeon said Thursday. "It should be dispersed throughout the city."

Gudgeon noted the Burnside Gorge neighbourhood is lacking a village centre and that residents are concerned Gorge Road is too busy. "We have a duty of care to the actual neighbourhood of Burnside Gorge," she said.

Gudgeon was commenting on a proposal by the Greater Victoria Housing Society and the Greater Victoria Rental Development Society to transform the site of the 40-unit Friendly Inn, at 35-39 Gorge Rd. E., into 68 units of affordable housing.

Councillors gave support in principle to a $680,000 grant to support the affordable-housing project - provided it is successful in its rezoning application.

The grant application and the rezoning application are separate processes.

Coun. Pam Madoff, who had expressed concerns earlier in the day when the zoning application was considered by the zoning and land use committee, warned that the project would likely receive lots of attention when it gets to public hearing.

"We've heard a great deal of comment from the Burnside Gorge community about their interest in trying to have that part of the neighbourhood become more of a neighbourhood and less hard edge as a transportation corridor," Madoff said.

The zoning and land use committee recommended the application go to public hearing. On Madoff's suggestion, it also referred the application to the advisory design panel to look at whether - from an architectural point of view - the proposal enhances the notion of neighbourhood "versus an area for passing through."

The proposal is for a fourstorey, 68-unit apartment building and five townhouses. The apartments would have a mix of studio, one-bedroom, onebedroom and den and two-bedroom units with a mix of rental rates - some below market and some at market rates.

The project would be located beside Loreen Place, the Greater Victoria Housing Society's newly completed 52-unit affordable rental complex at 21 Gorge Rd. E.

Another affordable project is planned for a former Traveller's Inn, at 120 Gorge Rd. E., purchased by the city in 2010.

Meanwhile, councillors tabled a proposed project charter for updating the city's comprehensive housing strategy. The update, which would have cost $155,000 over two years, was to "complete a housing needs assessment and a review of relevant good municipal practice in these areas of housing," according to a staff report.

Many of the councillors said the expenditure was too much money for information that is already available from other sources.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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