A year ago, Victoria’s “Missing Middle” housing proposal was arguably the defining issue of the municipal election. But after passing in January, the policy has had almost no effect so far, leading city council to tweak it in hopes of spurring more builds.
More on that below, plus a local solar power project and more Halloween events.
Today’s approx. read time: 5 minutes
Victoria’s Missing Middle policy finally seeing some projects
File photo: James MacDonald / Capital Daily
In its first half-year, Victoria’s much-awaited, much-debated “Missing Middle” housing policy saw no new builds begin and just three applications submitted.
The policy, passed in January, was intended to accelerate construction of denser housing on lots previously used by single-family homes (SFHs). It essentially pre-zoned all lots for up to six units, rather than making multi-unit proposals in that range go through public hearings and other steps for rezoning.
So why didn’t the change—one of the biggest wedge issues in last year’s election—translate?
According to city staff’s six-month review findings, the default limitations built into the policy were too, well, limiting. Developers made that same case to The Walrus this summer, arguing that most projects were rendered unprofitable by factors such as the maximums for how much of the lot a building could occupy and minimums for parking spaces.
They felt that in a policy intended to put more housing on a lot, too much of the lot had to be used for non-housing—and too many limits applied to multi-units but not to SFHs.
September vote reworked guidelines
Houseplexes and corner townhouses can now be three metres taller (11-12m depending on roof type), can cover more of the lot (now 50% for townhouses, up from 40%), and can come closer to its edge (various setback requirements reduced from 4-6m to 2-5m). City staff also have more latitude to wave projects through; they can now grant parking variances without going to council. The requirement for a rental unit has also been dropped (renewing concerns about affordability).
Mayor Marianne Alto told CHEK this month that there are five Missing Middle proposals underway. The next policy review will be at the 18-month mark.
Local project working on a better way to gather solar power
Battery-driven devices, from electric vehicles to smart gadgets, are booming, creating a higher demand for energy to recharge them. That demand on the power grid would drop if every device could help gather its own electricity—such as by absorbing solar power.
But silicon, the common material for solar panels, requires mining and ultimately does not convert solar energy all that efficiently.
A local company thinks it has something better. Victoria-based Solaires is developing a material that will better capture solar energy: perovskite.
“In order to produce our product, it's a chemical composition — we don’t use any scarce resource,” co-founder Fabian de la Fuente told Victoria Tech Journal. “Our technology is very light, flexible, and translucent; something that silicon cannot be.”
Its newest innovation recycles indoor light to create a renewable energy source.
Solaires is a spinoff from UVic, co-founded by de la Fuente alongside Sahar Sam, the company’s chief science officer. Sam completed her PhD and postdoctoral work at UVic in materials and mechanical engineering, where she developed transparent and conductive films for applications in touchscreens and solar cells.
🎊 New Indigenous artwork unveiled in a Saturday ceremony at Vic West’s Orca Gardens, run by the Canadian Orca Rescue Society. [Photos]
👩⚕️ Virtual care without compromise. Health+ is for people who want more out of their virtual care. No more sacrificing quality for convenience.
Learn more today.*
🏈 Watch the Westshore Rebels win the Cullen Cup, BC’s junior football championship, in this full-game video.
BC Cancer Foundation’s $15M campaign to buy a Victoria building
The Richmond Road structure is very close to the existing BC Cancer – Victoria campus, and would be used for integrated care and research once completed. [Announcement]
Someone’s slipping $50 bills under seniors’ doors
In a local low-cost building, 18 older residents have gotten cash gifts. They don’t know who the donor was—a fellow resident seems likeliest—but are grateful. [CTV]
Former local soccer stars three-peat as champs
Hamilton dynasty Forge FC just won its 4th trophy in the Canadian Premier League’s 5 seasons; Langford’s Pacific FC remains the only other team ever to win. Shortly after Pacific beat Forge in 2021, Forge poached its stars Terran Campbell and Alessandro Hojabrpour. They now celebrate their third straight title.
Local rallies calling for ceasefire continue
Sunday saw another anti-war protest and march in support of Palestine, which wound through James Bay and along Dallas. Speakers at the Legislature included a student whose relatives are among thousands killed in Gaza during ongoing bombing by Israel. [CHEK]
🎃 Halloween events: continue; see what’s going on in Capital Daily’s guide to frightful and fun local events.
📽️ Halloween classics double feature: Cinecenta will screen The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (restored) and The Bride of Frankenstein in a 2-for-1 movie deal tomorrow. Begins 5:30pm.
🎞️ Can’t wait a day? Well, Victoria Event Centre is also screening the Cabinet as part of a fundraiser for FLUX gallery. 7pm / tickets by donation. The VEC also hosts a Halloween Show & Art Market tomorrow.
Dance Victoria presents New York’s world-class Gibney Company in a virtuosic mixed evening on November 17 and 18 at the Royal Theatre. Tickets and more info here.*
🚘 How cars changed the ways we live: UVic’s latest in the Cafe Historique lecture series looks at how personal mobility has reshaped the world around us. 7pm Weds. at Hermann’s Jazz.
A new record-high for Victoria cruise visitors with 970,000—but calculating cruises’ local economic impact is less straightforward. [Capital Daily]
Halloween houses map collecting some of the best lawn displays across the region. [CTV]
Beacon Wharf can stay for now, but the aging structure’s future in Sidney is in doubt. [Oct. 27 newsletter]