Adding to the Eclectic Neighbourhood Aesthetic
In the Heart of Victoria West
Intended to be a landmark along the border of the Catherine at Edward Small Urban Village, the development is seen as expressing—through form and materials—the local eclectic context of the neighbourhood.
We envision this building as an elevation of the ‘rental building’ stereotype and interesting addition to the historic and dynamic Victoria West neighbourhood.
Street Oriented and Pedestrian Friendly
Thoughtful and Eclectic Design
Purpose-Built Rental Housing
This area of the Victoria West neighbourhood includes a heterogeneous mix of commercial and residential uses, from single-family character homes to multi-family apartment and condominium buildings.
Neighbouring the subject site is a mix of single-family character homes located to the north and west, with commercial uses to the south and east. As per the Neighbourhood Plan, “A mix of historic older homes and new development in a greatly varied lot pattern is a characteristic of the neighbourhood.” These buildings include a range of building styles, composed mainly of stucco and painted wood cladding, with some brick accents.
The building grain peaks along Catherine Street and tapers as you move east and west which is a typical land use pattern for the city.
The footprint of the existing building is symptomatic of its era, with larger setbacks from the street and underutilized density, resulting in a fragmented urban design program. Modern design narratives seek to bring more intimacy to the street with tighter urban setbacks with the balance of the design program being driven by the rental utility and the relationship to neighbouring residential properties.
As well as directly bordering the Catherine at Edward Small Urban Village, the subject site is less than 500 metres from the Westside Large Urban Village and 500 metres from the Craigflower Small Urban Village which offers a wide range of local retail, commercial businesses and services.
Opportunities for recreational activities exist within a short walking distance from the subject site and include Banfield Park, Vic West Elementary, Victoria West Park, Songhees Walkway, and the Galloping Goose Trail.
Neighbourhood Vision Statement
“In 25 years, Victoria West is a safe and welcoming community with diverse people, housing and businesses. The old and new are knitted together to create an eclectic and exciting mix of people, places and culture. It is a leader in neighbourhood sustainability, showcasing strong businesses, active transportation, a vibrant waterfront, healthy ecosystems, local food and innovative housing.”
The subject property is located in the heart of Victoria West, directly bordering the Catherine at Edward Street Village.
The Victoria West Neighbourhood Plan envisions this area as an opportunity for ‘neighbourhood gathering, shops and services’. The Neighbourhood Plan also identifies several ‘big moves’, the first of which is to ‘Create Strong Village Hearts’, which has guided the planning of this proposal. Another is to develop and construct more places to live near transit and amenities. Within a two-block radius you can find an elementary school, a local food market—popular not only with residents of Victoria West but citywide—as well as four bus stops that provide access to most, if not all of the major regional employment centres within a 25-minute ride.
In the Official Community Plan (OCP), urban villages are envisioned to absorb 40% of all population growth, yet they only make up 3.5% of the city’s land base.
As such, we need to be careful about redevelopment to ensure these scarce lands are utilized appropriately. Currently designated as Traditional Residential within the Official Community Plan, we are seeking to include the subject site within the Catherine at Edward Small Urban Village. The housing forms characterizing these areas are low-rise and mid-rise multi unit buildings including townhouses and apartments, freestanding commercial and mixed-use buildings.
Our development is 1.86 FSR, which results in thirty-one rental units and two commercial units. While we exceed the Official Community Plan allowance designated for Small Urban Villages, there are provisions in the Official Community Plan to exceed the stated density for the advancement of certain plan objectives. In this case, those objectives are the provision of rental housing in perpetuity and strengthening the ‘village heart’ by providing local employment and business opportunities through the commercial spaces on the ground floor.
Housing Strategy Phase 1 & 2
Go Victoria Mobility Plan
Climate Leadership Plan
Upcoming Missing Middle Housing Study
Dozens of action items in the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan
We believe housing is a human right, and with homeownership increasingly out of step with local incomes, Purpose Built Rental (PBR) housing is the strongest form of tenure and represents a possible—and sometimes beneficial—alternative to homeownership.
Common benefits to rental housing are the lack of maintenance or repair costs, increased access to amenities, no property taxes, more flexibility where you live, predictable monthly payments, and no requirement for a downpayment.
What does the data tell us? Sixty-one percent (61%) of households in Victoria rent their home; of these, almost half (48%) are one-person households.
of households in Victoria rent their home
of those are one-person households.
The building programming has been designed in response to this data:
What's more, all rental units have been designed to increase livability through form and function, ultimately supporting long-term tenancies.
Learning from our History
The 1960s and 1970s introduced the first series of apartment buildings built under the Federal multi-unit residential building (MURB) program that incentivized many of the rental apartments built throughout the Capital Region.
As this program was phased out, only 934 purpose built rental units were built between 1980 and 2016, however, the City of Victoria’s population grew by 25,793 residents. Herein lies the problem; population growth outnumbered rental housing construction by more than 27 to 1 creating a significant shortage of supply. If we are going to make urban progress in affordability, climate change, and social equity, we need to increase rental housing across the city in areas well connected to walk, bike, and transit corridors.
Rental Units Built
built before 2000
This proposal seeks to provide a more urban, street-oriented building that is compatible with the evolving neighbourhood.
The building will be positioned at the intersection of Catherine Street and Langford Street. The building is intentionally set back along Bella Street and Langford Street to align and maintain the continuity of the street frontage with neighbouring residences while allocating space for the future reconciliation of the street width along Bella Street. The adjacent patio spaces serve to enliven the streetscape, in addition to the boulevard planting and six publicly accessible bicycle stalls. Best efforts will be made to retain the existing boulevard trees along Catherine Street and Langford Street.
Intended to be a landmark along the border of the Catherine at Edward Small Urban Village, the building is oriented to mimic neighbouring commercial properties with commercial units at grade along Catherine Street, enhancing the public realm and adding to the village heart.
The building is shaped as a four storey building along Catherine Street stepping down to three storeys as it meets the neighbouring residential buildings. A centrally located courtyard in the middle of the building aligns with the residential yards to the West and provides relief to the overall building massing. The building massing is further reduced as the building is set into the slope along Langford Street. The parkade entrance is then ‘tucked’ underneath the first floor of residential use along Langford Street, the lowest point of the site. Two Dogwood trees will be added in addition to planting to mark either side of the parkade entrance.
Composed of pearlescent metal shingles, arrayed in an artfully detailed pattern and metal window frames with planting boxes, the building has been designed to mark the transition from the traditional residential form to a more urban building typology. Architectural concrete is present at grade and is balanced by a wood-panelled entrance to the residential lobby.
While the material palette is restrained, the expression of the building has a subtle playfulness.
Generously sized windows are arrayed in an attentive pattern that interacts with the cascading arrangement of the shingles. These shingles give way to warmer-toned metal panels that frame each window, softening the facade and lending an organic undertone to the building appearance. The planting boxes are a node to the residential character of the neighbourhood.
Envisioned as an ‘outdoor living room’, the common courtyard is nestled in the centre of the building.
Picnic tables, seating and planting will enhance this space, in addition to a vibrant lighting design which allows for year-round use by building residents. The programming of the common courtyard is purposeful in its intention to create a space for connection and foster a sense of community between residents. Extending upwards from the common courtyard, the exterior corridors give residents access to their units and activate the exterior building form.
The building will be designed and constructed to BC Step Code 3, in accordance with the City of Victoria’s phased Step Code guidelines which were updated as of January 1st, 2020. Step Code 3 represents a 20% increase in efficiency.
This includes designing the building systems in a way that will reach high levels of performance in Thermal Energy Demand Intensity (TEDI), Total Energy Use Intensity (TEUI), and airtightness. This development is intended to create the kind of sustainable middle density development, carefully positioned in relation to alternate modes of transit, that contributes to a vital, low carbon, sustainable future envisioned for the City of Victoria.
The subject site is well connected to both walking and cycling networks, allowing residents of the development to access most everyday amenities and services either on foot or by bicycle.
The site is an approximately 10-minute bike ride from downtown Victoria via the Johnson Street Bridge and a short bike ride from the Galloping Goose Regional Trail, which connects to the Burnside Neighbourhood and Saanich via the Selkirk Trestle.
The site is extremely well-served by public transit, with five transit routes within 500 metres of the site (an approximate six-minute walk). Combined, these routes allow flexible access to the entire Capital Region. With regards to vehicle trip generation, between ten and twenty two-way vehicle trips are anticipated per peak hour period, which is a range of trip generation typically considered negligible in terms of road capacity.
"A Bikers Paradise"
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1839 Fairfield Road
Victoria, BC V8S 1G9
250 940 3568
As an integrated team of home builders, developers and urban planners, we’re deeply committed to increasing the quality of housing—and the quality of communities—in Victoria, BC.
Approaching every project with intention and care, we aim to contribute to the built environment in a way that enhances your sense of space and your sense of place. It’s in this commitment that we strive to create a lasting impression on the cities, neighbourhoods and homes in which we build.