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.

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]

Housing Strategy Initiatives

Victoria Housing Strategy – Annual Review
In November 2017 staff presented the first annual review of the Victoria Housing Strategy to City Council, detailing the actions achieved since the Strategy was implemented in June 2016. The report also contained a plan for adding new items to the Strategy going forward, and outlined an approach for the development of a new inclusionary housing policy to replace the existing Bonus Density Policy. Read the staff report here.

Inclusionary Housing
Council has directed staff to replace its existing Density Bonus Policy with a new Inclusionary Housing policy to encourage onsite affordable housing in new developments. This work will take place in 2018. Read the Council report here.  

Market Rental Revitalization Study (MaRRS)
The City is looking at ways to preserve and upgrade the large stock of aging market rental housing throughout the City. Considerations will include the development of policies, regulations, and incentive programs to encourage landlords to upgrade their buildings while maintaining tenant stability and affordability.
Status: At the Committee of the Whole meeting on November 23 Council will consider a staff report recommending the creation of a Standards of Maintenance Bylaw to improve the quality of residential accommodation, as well as a Tenant Relocation Policy to improve tenant protections in redevelopment scenarios. The City will also be looking at ways to improve energy efficiency and seismic stability in these buildings.

Garden Suites
Following a public hearing in April 2017, garden suites (also known as carriage or laneway houses) are now permitted as a right in zoning, as accessory rental dwellings to single family homes. Find out more on the Garden Suites page.

Victoria Housing Reserve Fund
The City has a grant fund available for the development and retention of affordable housing. Through the Housing Strategy and after consultation with housing stakeholders, the guidelines were updated to expand the eligibility criteria and flexibility for how the fund may be used, including creating a tiered system to encourage more family housing, and funding for home ownership projects. Read more about the Victoria Housing Reserve Fund here.

Secondary Suites
In April 2017 the City removed restrictions in zoning that reduced the number of homes eligible to develop secondary suites. Secondary suites are now permitted in most single family homes throughout the City. 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 (including duplexes and on lots with a garden suite) as a part of neighbourhood planning currently underway.

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. Council ultimately declined to remove minimum unit sizes Citywide and instead directed staff to create a standard unit size in multi-unit zones outside the downtown of 33m2. This work is now complete.

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].