Victoria makes it easier, cheaper for homeowners to build garden suites

Your Two Bits Worth

City councillors congratulate themselves. Why? They’ve taken a “big step” permitting garden suites in residential neighbourhoods, allegedly to alleviate Victoria’s rental housing crisis.

Truth is, they’re walking the same old path, bending over backwards to serve developers, builders, investors, and property owners—who benefit from soaring real estate values.

How do they manage this? By eliminating rezoning requirements. Property owners, who build garden suites in the city’s 6,700 single-family lots, will not need to inform nearby residents of their plans, as long as they conform to city specifications. “Good neighbour” policies aren’t part of the city’s planning authority.

Mayor and council admit garden cottages won’t make housing more affordable for tenants. Backyard billets will likely be premium-priced accommodations.

Why would council approve more high-end, higher-density housing in the City?

The answer: to paint a picture of their heroic effort to help “vulnerable” single-parent property-owners pay their mortgage by renting a carriage house/Airbnb suite to high-income tenants and tourists. In the same breath, the city approves demolition permits to tear down older apartment buildings, displace hundreds of tenants, and erect expensive condo units for affluent newcomers. Property owners matter; tenants don’t count.

Housing as commodity has its compassionate side, though. Council may offer displaced renters options: permission to sleep overnight in their cars; or, join the homeless in tents under trees in Beacon Hill Park.

Welcome to the “City of Gardens”, which promotes weed-wonders and uproots dandelions threatening the well-being of the wealthy and their vision of a 21st Century capital City!

 

V. Adams

Housing Advocate

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