Building in the right places


This post provides weblinks to supplement an article that ran in the Times Colonist.

Transit-oriented development – TOD – is basic to good city-making. We need more new homes and amenities near transit stops. This allows more people to live car-free and car-lite lifestyles, and reduces our overall community GHG emissions and other pollutants.

Of course, there is no need to limit the added development to areas well-served by transit. We should also be allowing more in 5-minute (and 10-minute) walkable, complete neighbourhoods, where people can access groceries, cafes and other destinations without having to drive or take transit. We have several of these around Victoria – our urban villages.

And of course we should allow more homes and amenities near protected bike-and-roll routes. We used to call these bike routes, but there has been amazing growth in the use of mobility scooters, e-bikes, e-scooters, e-skateboards, and more. It’s not just bikes anymore.

Also, when it comes to safety on such routes, paint is not adequate; it can actually be worse than nothing. We need high-quality, protected bike-and-roll routes if we want the quiet majority to consider using those routes, rather than getting in their cars and adding to traffic:


The majority prefer separated routes. Source: City of Victoria, “Go Victoria”

So the term “transit oriented development” is actually a bit dated. We can just say more development (more homes and amenities) in the right places.

And the right places are:

  • In 5- or 10-minute, walkable, complete communities
  • Near transit stops
  • Near protected bike-and-roll lanes.

In my opinion, the majority of Victoria City Council is strongly in favour of greater density in the right places. You can see it in our votes, in our comments on development applications, and in our strategic plan:


I hope we see a lot more proposals come to the City for development in the right places. And I expect we will.

Provincial reform

It also looks like the provincial government will be directly involved in building in the right places. It introduced legislation in 2022 allowing the BC Transportation Financing Authority to buy land “for the purpose of building housing and community amenities to serve people near transit stations and bus exchanges.”

It would be great to see the provincial government building massive amounts of non-profit housing and co-operative housing, along with needed amenities, in the right places. Please do!

If the province chooses to rely on the market to provide some of the needed homes-and-amenities-in-the-right-places, then municipalities will need to change their zoning bylaws to enable it.

And if municipalities fail to do so, then I’d welcome the province mandating it.

Certainly the Federal government has been making it clear that federal dollars depend on municipalities allowing more development in the right places, having publicly told several municipalities as much in recent weeks.

The provincial government will be making a number of significant housing announcements this fall, including bringing forward new legislation.I look forward to significant investments and policy changes that pave the way for far more homes and amenities in the right places.

We need this. This is what sustainable, low carbon cities look like. This is the future.

Bring it on.