Housing Strategy

Improving Housing Affordability in Victoria!

Victoria's Housing Strategy, 2016 - 2025 [PDF - 918 KB] is the City's plan for how to improve housing affordability over the next decade.

Latest News

June 23, 2017

Regulations for Short Term Rentals

Council is developing regulations for Short Term Rentals in order to address the rental housing shortage. Proposed changes include proactive enforcement of existing zoning and expanded business regulations for where Short Term Rentals are permitted, such as new license fees, operating rules, and fines for non-compliance.

Removal of Transient Zoning in Downtown Residential Buildings

In an effort to limit the impact of short term rentals on residential rental stock, Council is exploring amending the Zoning Regulation Bylaw to remove transient zoning downtown (where short term rental is currently permitted). Short term rentals in all residential dwellings would be limited to rooms in homes or condos, though other exemptions such as temporary use in whole dwelling units is also being explored. A public hearing will be required before any change to the bylaw.

Affordable Housing and Rental Retention policy

In an effort to prevent the continued loss of existing affordable rental housing, Council has placed a six-month moratorium on rental housing demolition permits insofar as the City has legal authority to do so while staff complete the Market Rental Retention Study. The study is an action of the Victoria Housing Strategy that will explore potential policies, regulations, and incentives to upgrade existing rental stock while protecting tenants from displacement.

May 2017

Secondary Suites
The City has made it easier for homeowners to build secondary suites by removing restrictions in zoning that limited the amount of exterior changes that could be made to a building containing a secondary suite. These zoning changes will increase the number of properties eligible for secondary suites while still maintaining livability, safety and affordability. Read the staff report here.

April 2017

Garden Suites
Victoria Housing Strategy Initiative – Permit Garden Suites in Zoning was approved by Council following a public hearing on April 13, 2017. Homeowners who want to develop a garden suite will now no longer need to apply for a rezoning.

For more information on the change please see the media release here. If you are interested in developing a garden suite on your property, please see the Garden Suite page here for detailed information.

Victoria Housing: Did you know?

  • Victoria's population grew from 63,800 in 1981 to 80,000 in 2011
  • Victoria anticipates an additional 20,000 residents by 2041
  • 59% of Victoria households are rented (compared to 51% in Vancouver and 34% regionally)
  • The current vacancy rate in Victoria is 0.5% - one of the lowest in the country
  • Affordable housing means housing that costs no more than 30% of household income before tax
  • There are an estimated 1,500 homeless people in the Region
  • Victoria needs an additional 13,500 apartment units and 2,700 ground floor homes by 2041

Victoria Housing Strategy

Victoria is committed to improving housing affordability in the City.  The Victoria Housing Strategy contains 26 ambitious actions the City will be taking to do this, which fall under three main strategic directions:

  1. Increase Supply of housing for low to moderate income households

  2. Encourage Diversity of housing types, tenures, and prices across the city and within neighbourhoods

  3. Build Awareness and partnerships for affordable housing through communication, education and advocacy

Read the Victoria Housing Strategy 2016 - 2025 [PDF - 918 KB]

Initiatives

Removing minimum unit sizes: The City considered removing the minimum unit size regulations for multi-unit residential developments throughout the City (no minimum unit sizes currently exist in the downtown already) to improve the diversity of housing options in the City.
Status: Council has directed staff to create a standard unit size in multi-unit zones outside the downtown of 33m2, and to tie future requests for micro-units in these areas to housing affordability. A new public hearing date will be scheduled for spring 2017.

Garden Suites: Council has approved removing the rezoning requirement for stand-alone garden suites (also known as carriage or laneway houses). Development permit approvals will now be done by staff, meaning homeowners can apply to build a garden suite without rezoning their property or going before Council.
Status: A public hearing date was held on April 13, 2017, where the bylaws were approved.

Victoria Housing Reserve Fund: The City has a fund set up to contribute to the construction of affordable housing. 0n November 24 2016, Council approved a new funding structure aimed to increase the number of family units built in Victoria. View the staff presentation here.
Status: Staff are currently consulting with stakeholder groups, including the development community and non-profit housing providers, to get feedback on the proposed changes.

Secondary Suites: The City is proposing ways to make it easier for homeowners to build secondary suites by changing requirements in zoning, including removing a prohibition on making exterior changes prior to or after developing a suite. Staff will also be creating programs and events to assist homeowners in developing legal suites or bringing existing suites into compliance. Read the staff report here.

At this time, only one rental suite is permitted in any single family house, however, Council has directed staff to explore multiple rental suites and secondary suites in more intensive forms of housing as a part of neighbourhood planning currently underway.

Status: A public hearing date is targeted for this Spring. Staff are discussing variations on secondary suites that remain prohibited and are not contemplated by this change (more than one suite, a garden suite and a secondary suite together, secondary suites on small lots, and others) at neighbourhood planning events.

Tell us what you think

Send us your questions, comments or great ideas to communityplanning@victoria.ca. Your feedback will be included in reports to Council.

Community Workshops

The Victoria Housing Strategy identifies a series of annual workshops as a way to collaborate and explore new ways of achieving housing affordability in Victoria. The first workshop, held on January 18, 2017, was on Affordable Home Ownership. Attendees were from a diversity of housing related fields including non-profit housing, development, finance, government, and academia.

Attendees heard from three speakers describing models of affordable home ownership that exist in other cities and discussed what role the City can play in facilitating affordable home ownership projects. View the presentations:

BC Affordable Home Ownership Presentation [PDF - 500 KB]
Calgary Affordable Home Ownership Presentation [PDF - 1.5 MB]
Canmore Home Ownership Model Presentation [PDF - 182 KB]

The presentations were followed by a workshop. Participants were asked to identify which of the models could work in Victoria and what else needs to happen to help the City improve affordable home ownership. Read the engagement summary and detailed feedback here [DOCX - 46 KB].