How will Realstar’s current redevelopment plan for Christie Point affect residents, neighbours, and the community?

Here are some primary considerations to bear in mind:

Affordability 

Affordable housing is a hot topic in Victoria. At the moment, rents at Christie Point are considered affordable for most; however, Realstar has indicated rates will increase with the new development.

What we know from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and BC Housing about housing, in general:

  • current vacancy rates in the region are 0.5%
  • 2016 rents were up 5.5% over 2015 rates
  • 30% of pre-tax household income is the maximum that should be spent on housing
  • 24% of renters in Victoria spend more than 50% of their income on rent
  • rental increases are predicted to increase $30-$60/month over the next 2 years for a two-bedroom apartment in Greater Victoria

It is unknown how much rents will increase at Christie Point. Without knowing what new rents may be in the new development, residents cannot decide if they will stay or go.

Displacement

Christie Point Apartments

Christie Point is currently:

  • the largest rental complex in View Royal at 161-units
  • a mix of 1, 2, and 3-bedroom apartments, and 3-bedroom townhouses

Realstar’s proposed plans include:

  • bachelor and 1, 2, and 3 bedroom apartments
  • adding 312 units overall for a total of 473 units
  • new units at market rates (i.e. waterfront, new build, etc)
  • likely higher rents

Examples: a family in a 3-bedroom townhouse may find it is unaffordable to move into a 3-bedroom apartment and impractical to move into a 2-bedroom apartment. Three-bedroom rentals at Christie Point currently make up approximately 30% of the housing mix but it is not clear how many 3-bedroom apartments will be available.

Residents on fixed income pensions may be unable to afford their current-sized unit, or be put into a position where they need to spend more of their budget on housing than previously, in order to stay.

It is important that Realstar consider the needs of existing and new residents regarding the number, type and cost of the rentals as they add more units in the region with this project.

Construction

Demolition and rebuilding will:

  • take 3-4 years
  • occur in stages in order to build on the same footprint
  • require residents, who wish to stay here, to move within the complex as their buildings are demolished

Rental rates have not been provided for those who choose to remain during construction in order to secure a unit in the new build. Living in a construction zone should be factored in when residents move within the unit and remain during construction.

Construction noise, vibration of heavy equipment, site safety and construction traffic will directly impact residents who stay behind to wait to move into the new buildings. Portage Inlet neighbours will probably hear the same noise across the Inlet.

Shoreline Drive is the only entry point for all vehicles including construction, emergency, and private vehicles.

Wildlife sightings were noticeably reduced during other recent area construction projects. Many residents and interest groups fear the construction activity will impact wildlife long-term.

Traffic

Heavy traffic at Shoreline and Island Highway in View Royal

Shoreline Drive, Island Highway, and Admirals Road traffic already cause delays and safety concerns for the area. All three roads are heavily used, particularly during rush hours.

There are two other approved construction projects in the area slated to overlap with Realstar’s proposed timelines:

  • McKenzie Interchange – the estimated completion date is the end of 2018. Traffic is expected to increase along Island Highway as drivers use it as an alternative to traveling around McKenzie.
  • The EconoLodge at Admirals and Craigflower – redevelopment starts in early 2017, with an estimated completion date of mid-to-late 2018.

The intersection at Shoreline Drive and Island Highway will also need to be reconfigured to cope with increased traffic in and out of Christie Point along Shoreline Drive.

If there is an emergency at Christie Point, will emergency responders get in and out with ease with one access point, a narrow road, and almost triple the units … especially to the far north end of the complex?

Shoreline School

Shoreline School is located on Shoreline Drive in View Royal

Shoreline Middle School is located on Shoreline Drive – the only road in and out of Christie Point. Students walk, bike, and bus to school along this busy road. Parents regularly use a small drop-off zone just down from Island Highway during rush hours.

Heavy amounts of traffic and congestion at Shoreline Drive and Island Highway currently exist for several hours a day.

The safety of Shoreline School students, parents, staff, and Shoreline Drive residents is potentially affected by increased traffic beside the school. Construction traffic will use Shoreline Drive, as well.

Parking

Realstar has proposed 473 units will be built in the redevelopment plans. They also state parking will be reduced to a ratio of 1.1 stalls per unit. The redevelopment plan also includes public access to enhanced landscaped site and trails.

This means:

  • parking will be increased to 522 resident spots from the existing 121
  • creating 71 additional visitor parking for residents’ guests and visitors to day use areas
  • creating 593 total parking spots – an increase of 472 spots over the existing site

In total this will add more than 4 times the current parking to the site, while Shoreline Drive and Shoreline Middle School remain the nearest overflow parking areas.

Ecology/Environment

A Christie Point Redevelopment will have an Environmental Impact

Portage Inlet, part of the Victoria Harbour Migratory Bird Sanctuary, is a designated Natural Watercourse and Shoreline Area. Environmental protection is necessary for fish, birds, mammals, trees, and plants.

These ecosystems and habitats, all of which are connected, will be impacted by:

  • construction noise
  • vibration from trucks and machinery
  • added lighting
  • increased traffic to the area

Disturbing these sensitive environments may harm their vitality and the ecological services they provide. These areas support a rich diversity of flora and fauna. They are integral elements of greater local and regional environmental systems.

Pets

Pets are Currently Welcome at Christie Point

Are accommodations for your pets important to you? Pet-friendly accommodation in the Victoria area is at a premium.

Currently, Christie Point Apartments is advertised as a pet-friendly environment where cats and small or medium-sized dogs are welcome with a pet deposit and approval of pet application (limit of two per suite).

This topic has not yet been directly addressed in Realstar’s redevelopment package, although an off-leash dog area is shown on their landscape master plan.