Victoria City Hall
9 April 2018
Re: 1201 Fort Street and 1050 Pentrelew Place
Dear Victoria Mayor and Council,
Cities for Everyone endorses the development proposed at 1201 Fort Street and 1050 Pentrelew Place as a way to increase housing supply and efficient transportation.
As a member of City of Victoria’s Official Community Plan (OCP) Citizen’s Advisory Committee in 2009-2011, and Victoria’s Housing Affordability Task Force in 2015-2016, I can report that this project is eminently consistent with both the spirit and the letter of these two official documents. These documents commit Victoria to create 13,500 additional apartments and 2,700 ground-floor housing units during the next two decades, to efficiently accommodate at least 20,000 additional residents within convenient walking distance of major activity centers, including more townhouses and apartments located along arterial and secondary arterial roads. This project is exactly the type of infill our Task Force envisioned.
Abundant research indicates that residents of compact housing in walkable areas consume less land, own fewer motor vehicles, drive less, rely more on non-auto travel modes, and spend more on local goods and services than they would living in sprawled and automobile-dependent areas. This provides many direct benefits to those households and indirect benefits to communities including improved health and safety, increased economic opportunity, more local economic development, and environmental protection.
Let me respond to three objections I’ve heard about this project.
- Excessive size. It is true that six stories it more than what currently exists, but that is the nature of urban growth, if we are to accommodate more people, larger buildings must replace smaller buildings. The six stores are very appropriate on Fort Street, a major arterial, and are not in the neighborhood. If this building is too tall, then so is Creighderich Castle, which actually is within the neighborhood and generates far more daily vehicle trips than this project ever will.
- Unaffordability. Although the units in this project will not initially be affordable to low- and moderate-income households, they will contribute to the City’s overall affordability through what urban economists call “filtering,” which means that increasing higher priced housing supply allows some households to move out of lower-priced units, and because depreciates in value over time, so mid-priced housing becomes future affordable supply.
- Displaces greenspace and generates traffic. Infill development often does require cutting down trees and paving over lawns, and may increase vehicle trips on a street, but these local impacts are generally offset many times over by reductions in regional land consumption and vehicle traffic that would occur if those households instead located in conventional automobile-dependent urban fringe housing. As a result, compact infill housing is considered the most sustainable development option overall.
For these reasons, Cities for Everyone supports the proposed development at 1201 Fort Street and 1050 Pentrelew Place, and other infill housing projects that help meet the city’s targets for increasing the supply of housing within walking distance of services and activities.