June 22, 2017

Council Highlights provide a snapshot of the progress made on City programs, initiatives and on Council decision-making. For more information on each initiative, please visit the accompanying link where noted. We welcome anyone who would like to receive Council Highlights to email us at engage@victoria.ca.

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 individual 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 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 a 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. Council has also directed staff to bring forward a budget amendment drawing on the 2017 contingency to fund this work in an expedited manner, including the option to hire a second housing planner on a contract basis.

Johnson Street Bridge Project Update
On June 15, Angus English from MMM presented to Council advising of a further delay in the opening of the Johnson Street Bridge. The bridge was scheduled to be opened by the end of 2017; however delays in steel fabrication have pushed the date the new bridge will be open to traffic to March 2018.

Johnson Street Bridge Lessons Learned
Johnson Street Bridge Project Director Jonathan Huggett presented a preliminary “Lessons Learned” report on the Johnson Street Bridge Replacement Project. The lessons learned offered advice and guidance around how the City of Victoria can improve the way in manages major infrastructure projects moving forward, such as the Crystal Pool replacement. 

Crystal Pool and Fitness Centre Project Update
Staff presented an update on the renewal project including project planning, design, engagement, funding opportunities and the project timeline. Council has directed staff to work with the North Park Neighbourhood Association to develop a Memorandum of Understanding for the North Park use of the facility. Additionally, Council directed that ‘Wellness’ will replace ‘Fitness’ in the project name.

Witness Reconciliation Program
The City Task Force formerly called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC's) Calls to Action Task Force is now called the Witness Reconciliation Program. The program includes appointments to the City Family, which includes Mayor Lisa Helps, Councillor Marianne Alto, Councillor Charlayne Thornton-Joe, Brianna Dick  of the Songhees Nation, Katie Hooper of the Esquimalt Nation, Carey Newman, Janice Simcoe and City staff representatives. Updates from the Witness Reconciliation Program will be presented to Council as part of the City’s quarterly reporting process.

Rezoning Application for 986-988 Heywood Avenue
Following a public hearing Council has approved an application to rezone the property at 986-988 Heywood Ave to allow for the construction of a 4-storey residential building. 

Parklets and Sidewalk Cafés Bylaw
Council has asked staff to monitor potential noise issues related to sidewalk cafes over the next two years, and to amend the current bylaw by adjusting the fees to reflect the use of additional space for sidewalk café’s that are using the adjacent parking stalls. Council also requested that following the conclusion of the Parklet Trial Installation, City staff prepare new bylaw regulations that would include a “2 for 1” parking spot deal for groups of businesses and residents that come together to develop a parklet.

UBCM Resolutions
Council has endorsed a number of resolutions to bring forward to the UBCM convention held this fall in Vancouver, including:

  • Local Partnerships for Energy Efficiency Retrofits, encouraging levels of government to partner and incentivize programs for property owners to save money and reduce the environment impact of buildings.
  • Optimizing Community Benefits of Forest Resources, to improve the community benefits from forest resources while increasing legislation to protect drinking watersheds and biological diversity by adopting best practices in forest management from international jurisdictions.
  • Encouraging the Use of Residential Property for Housing, encouraging the use of residential property to be used to provide housing through effective fiscal and taxation tools. This would also discourage market distortions such as speculation, “flipping,” and commodity investment that contribute toward a sharp escalation in the price of housing.
  • Provincial Share of Infrastructure Spending requesting the Provincial government to match the Federal government’s percentage of spending on infrastructure projects.