Crews are hard at work on a four-storey, 122-unit building in Victoria.
It’s a big project with a small footprint.
The Janion building, a former hotel that was built in 1891, is being transformed into a condominium complex with no minimum unit size requirement. Some units are as small as 250 square feet.
The City of Victoria is looking to expand on this idea to include all multi-unit residential zoning areas.
“Really what we’re trying to do is build some flexibility into the development process for the development community so they can deliver more units on the same piece of land,” Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said.
Currently, single units in Victoria must be at least 355 square feet. If that requirement is lifted, the emphasis would be on livability – things like access to natural light, one operable window, privacy and proximity.
But the biggest goal is to make the units affordable.
“The cost per unit goes down and we expect that to translate into lower rents or lower condo prices,” Helps said.
The concept is not new. In order to get into the market, many people are looking to downsize. An entire industry geared towards building tiny homes has emerged. Jon Stovell of Reliance Properties, which is developing the Janion building, says broadening that trend to condo living is a natural next step.
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“I think we’re going to see a lot more of this in all the major cities in North America. People can see the benefits of paying less and having more of the things they enjoy day-to-day that are out in the city,” Stovell said.
There are concerns that developments like this could force growing families out of the downtown core. But proponents say the idea is to provide a mix of options, using all the tools available to get buyers into the market.
“The big picture – this is meant to address affordability,” Helps said.
– with files from Kylie Stanton