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Clear sailing for parking variance sought by city

Dec 21 2011

Victoria is in the process of giving itself a parking variance for its social housing project on Queens Avenue.

The variance will reduce the required number of parking spaces to 20 from 47.

The city wants to transform the former 36-unit, low-cost Traveller's Inn at the corner of Queens Avenue and Douglas Street into 36 studio apartments for continued use as social housing.

The Queen's Avenue property was one of two Traveller's Inns bought by the city in July 2010 for $5.6 million for use as social housing. The other one, on Gorge Road, is to be transformed into social housing for First Nations families. It is in the planning stage.

About a year ago, in pursuit of a place to house people living on or close to the street - including some who had been camping on the boulevard in front of the Our Place drop-in centre on the 900 block of Pandora Avenue - the city opened the former inn at 710 Queens Ave. under the new name Queens Manor.

It now intends to begin renovation of the building and transfer ownership to B.C. Housing. But to do that, it needs the parking variance.

The variance application was recommended for approval by the city's zoning and land use committee last week without debate. The zoning bylaw requires 1.3 parking stalls per unit, for a total of 47. The previous owner had a variance reducing that requirement by 14 stalls.

Coun. Marianne Alto, the committee chairwoman, said the parking requirement is a minor issue.

"They felt it was, frankly, not necessary to have so many parking spaces in the renovations, given that the population they are aiming at is not likely to have vehicles," Alto said.

"It's a low-barrier housing reno and there really wasn't a sense that there was a reason to be quite as strict as with the regular parking standard."

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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