Have you driven down Yates Street lately? It’s a bit of a gong show with all the construction going on. In fact, the entire downtown Victoria seems to be awash with construction cranes and cement pumper trucks. What the heck is going on? Well…a whole lot of building, that’s what.


With Victoria’s rental vacancy rate hovering around 0.5% it’s no wonder Victoria’s mayor has proposed relaxing the city’s bylaws that prohibit people from sleeping in their vehicles. But that’s not going to help for the long term. Thousands of purpose-built rental units have been added to the Capital Region’s housing stock since 2010 and thousands more are on the way. Over the last seven years alone some 700-units of subsidized, affordable and supportive housing were created throughout Greater Victoria while hundreds more are currently under construction or planned for completion by 2019.


Part of the solution has been the transition of aging hotel accommodation to both luxury and subsidized rental accommodation. The Queen Victoria Inn and the Dominion Hotel were transformed into rental apartments in 2014 and 2015 yielding 124 and 97-units, respectively. Another 200-odd hotel units are in the process of being upgraded into rentals at the Harbour Towers hotel complex in James Bay, while several hundred-former motel and hotel suites along Gorge Road East and upper Douglas Street were also transitioned into various strata of rental housing. Esquimalt’s EconoLodge Inn & Suites on Craigflower Road at Admirals Road is currently undergoing a phased conversion into 96-units of rental housing, and the former Tally-Ho Hotel complex on Douglas Street near Finlayson Street will soon be turned into over 50-units of supportive housing for hard-to-house individuals.


Even though more rental housing is coming on-line all the time, demand continues to push rental prices higher and higher. Costs for new-build market housing are currently pushing above $1,500 per month for one-bedroom, 500 square foot apartments. New-build two-bedroom units are priced in the $2,000 per month range. Luxury rental penthouses in the city centre are now reaching $3,000 for two-bedroom suites.


So, when travelling down Yates, let’s all try to be patient and give ourselves a little more time to negotiate congestion. You’ll be happy you did.


Data supplied © by Citified

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