Affordable housing units ready at Dockside Green

Tim Zemanek has a moment with daughter Ilsa, wife Kate and daughter Teagan at Madrona on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017. The family is moving into one of the units.   Photograph By ADRIAN LAM, Times Colonist

A building that heralds a new chapter in the life of Dockside Green has been completed.
The 49-unit affordable-housing project at 370 Harbour Ave. is called Madrona. Construction started in the summer of 2016 and was completed this week, bringing below-market rental housing to the Vic West neighbourhood.

Families are expected to move into the units in November.

“[This] is a major milestone for Catalyst. Madrona is our first construction project in Victoria, and offers a real opportunity to demonstrate that there is a better way to create new housing that will actually offer more housing affordability, not less,” said Catalyst president Robert Brown.

Brown said rent at Madrona will be set at between 10 and 40 per cent below market, and will vary depending on the size of the home — studios start at $695 per month to four-bedroom townhouses renting at $1,650 a month.

To be eligible for tenancy at Madrona, renters must first prove their household income is below the maximum incomes for each size of home.

“A home is generally considered affordable when no more than 30 per cent of total household income is spent on rent,” said Brown. “With that in mind, we’ve built homes at Madrona that are affordable to individuals and families earning between $28,000 and $65,000 a year.

“There is a desperate shortage of affordable housing affordable for regular working people and seniors, and we’re working with our partners to help fill that gap.”
The $9-million project includes two three-storey buildings, and is made possible by a financing model that includes about $3 million that was set aside for affordable housing by Dockside Green years ago and held by the City of Victoria. There is also private investment from foundations and investors willing to take less than market return because it’s for affordable housing.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said this kind of housing is desperately needed in the region.
“With a vacancy rate of around 0.5 per cent, our city needs significantly more rental supply to meet that demand,” she said.

Madrona was the first construction project started on the site in six years when work started in 2016. Dockside started to take shape in 2003.
Bosa Development said this month that it is buying Dockside from Vancity Credit Union, with plans to build out the site as a mixed-use neighbourhood over the next 10 years.
The sale is to close in December.

Construction on the remaining 10 acres of the 15-acre site is expected to start late next year.