May 27, 2015

The Daily Scot: Win-Wins in Victoria

Scot recently spent a few days in Victoria and will be sharing his thoughts on the city across the water throughout the week.  First up, new uses for old houses:
During a walk around Victoria’s Rockland neighbourhood (the city’s equivalent to Shaughnessy), I discovered that a number of the beautiful old mansions have been preserved and re-purposed as boarding houses and rental apartments largely occupied by young people.
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I was told by three twenty-somethings leaving this lovely historic structure that the house contains 14 units and a carriage home in the back.  Its a win-win for all: preservation of heritage and neighbourhood character, cash flow for the owner, affordable accommodation in a beautiful environment where you can meet new friends and develop social connections in a new city while within walking distance to downtown and the beach.  
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All of this appears to be different scenario from the current program for older homes in Shaughnessy when you read articles like this: “Shaughnessy: Is Anybody Home?” 
And all the more applicable when you consider yesterday’s rally and the current plight of Vancouver’s millennials and Generation Squeeze. 

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  1. I commute by bike through Shaughnessy nearly every day. It makes for a fabulous ride, because it is strikingly devoid of people. This is uncanny given its location in the geographic centre of Vancouver. I’ve long believed that the collision of demographic pressures and heritage preservation will some day lead to the repurposing and stratification of the mansions of Shaughnessy, but I was unaware that it had already been done in Victoria.

    No matter how lovely the dream, I don’t expect any urbanist experiments in Shaughnessy. Like the upzoning of RS-1, it would be far too sensible a response to our housing crisis.

    1. Shaughnessey is zoned FSD. Description: The intent of this District and accompanying official development plan is to protect and preserve Shaughnessy’s unique pre-1940 single-family residential character. Provision is made to allow large pre-1940 houses to be redeveloped as multiple conversion dwellings, and to allow large sites with pre-1940 residential buildings to provide infill development.

      1. Thanks for this. But the zoning doesn’t appear to have led to any substantive changes in the human density of the neighbourhood. I’d be curious to know how many conversions to multiple-dwelling have been permitted under FSD.

  2. After demolition of a few houses what sort of development do you envisage that would be nice and affordable? Bunker blocks? Townhouses?

    What sort of price range? How dense would it have to be, considering the land cost, to come into line with affordable, which is what?

  3. On one side we have people saying that many of the old mansions are already cut up into multiple suites.
    On the other side we have people saying that Shaughnessy appears devoid of people, a veritable ghost town in the middle of Vancouver.

    Is it possible for both sides to be right? Are the houses chopped up, but not rented out? That wouldn’t be all that surprising given the rate of land value appreciation.

  4. Back in Victoria…………….Here are some other things we are up to over here, thanks to our terrific mayor and council and some organizations like the Greater Victoria Placemaking Network, Downtown Victoria Business Assn, Cycling Coalition etc: