(Ethan Morneau / Victoria Buzz)

Victoria city council wants to speed up construction of affordable housing, passing new legislation that cuts about nine months off timelines for a typical project.

The motion passed Thursday means projects by non-profit, government or co-op housing organizations will no longer require rezonings or public hearings when they already meet official community plans and related design guidelines.

Amid a housing crisis, Mayor Lisa Helps calls it a “bold step to remove the uncertainty around affordable housing decisions and cut red tape.”

“It’s the first of hopefully many tectonic shifts in how Victoria is improving the housing development process,” said Helps.

Victoria is the first municipality in BC to approve a city-wide accelerated process for qualifying affordable housing projects, states a press release.

Staff says the new legislation is the first of “several major policy moves” to close the supply gap and make homes “more affordable, more accessible and more attainable.”

It ultimately gives non-profit housing providers more certainty to secure senior government funding without the risk of a project being turned down at a public hearing, the city explains.

“Cities taking steps to speed up approvals for new public and affordable housing makes it easier, cheaper and faster for the province and the federal government to respond to the housing crisis by building the homes that are desperately needed,” added Attorney General David Eby.

According to city staff, nearly half of Victoria’s 27,000 renter households spend more than 30% of their income on rent, as BC Housing reports indicate a waitlist of around 1,100 locals in need of affordable housing.

The city says it plans to build 2,100 more affordable rental units by 2025.

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