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Major housing project pitched for block surrounding Victoria's Christ Church Cathedral


The Anglican Church has pitched a plan to build as many as 500 units of housing for 1,500 people on the city block owned by the Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria.

Kaeley Wiseman with Wiser Project is providing consulting services to the church, as it seeks to develop the Fairfield land.

 “Envisage how the space could meet changing community needs,” she said Sunday outside the cathedral. “Reinvigorate the space going forward.”

The proposal calls for between six and eight buildings ranging in height from six to 18 storeys. The Christ Church Cathedral, along with the school on the block, would stay. Towers and townhomes would go where there are currently parking lots. The existing green space, including large trees beside the cathedral, would remain.

Bishop Anna is with the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia, the Islands and Inlets. She is leading the project for the Anglican Church, which she says recognizes the importance of maximizing the utility of the land.

“As a society, I think we have to look at how it’s easier to find a place to park your car than it is to find a place to lay your head — and the church is very aware of that,” she said Sunday.

The land is owned by the Anglican Diocese. It’s part of its large land ownings that include 46 churches—as well as surrounding property with other buildings and halls — on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Many of those halls are reaching the end of their lives, and need to be repurposed.

Bishop Anna says, given that fewer people are attending church or making use of church properties, some of that land — including the property that encompasses Christ Church cathedral — can be put to better, more critical use.

“Should some of our properties be repurposed to help the housing crisis,” she said, noting the growing lack of housing across the country, particularly in B.C.

The proposal in Victoria involves leasing or selling the air space above the ground to developers. Some of the proceeds would go towards seismic upgrades for the cathedral, which is in need of at least $30 million in work, while other proceeds would go to First Nations, as part of ongoing reconciliation efforts.

“Any project has to be aware of its colonial legacy and contribute towards reconciliation,” said Bishop Anna.

Consultations with the Fairfield Neighbourhood Association will take place at the end of November. Rezoning applications will be made to the City of a Victoria in January. If approved, it’s expected the 15-year project still wouldn't begin for several years. Top Stories

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