The Missing Middle Housing Initiative is likely on hold


As anyone who reads this blog or Twitter knows, the current housing situation is a disaster for an unacceptably large number of Victoria residents.

The City has introduced a number of different initiatives to address this, including the Rapid Deployment of Affordable Housing Initiative, the Tenant Assistance Policy, the Villages and Corridors Planning process, and yes, the Missing Middle Housing Initiative (MMHI).

The MMHI was one small piece of a large number of policy initiatives, but unfortunately it took up far more of the public discourse than it should have. Over the last several months, it heated up and became surrounded by disinformation and personal attacks. These distracted from the actual pros and cons, which should have been the focus of discussion.

And now it all may be moot.

The Minister of Housing announced his plans for missing middle housing in his frontrunner bid to be leader and Premier, which is to allow triplexes on all lots currently zoned for single detached houses.

Victoria City Council referred the MMHI “to a Committee of the Whole meeting in the last quarter of 2022 to consider in the context of new provincial legislation with respect to increasing housing supply that has been signaled by the Province and other considerations of concern to the new Council.”

The details of the provincial policy will matter. City staff will need to analyse it when it comes out, and it very likely means Victoria’s MMHI is on hold for several months at a minimum, and potentially completely off the table depending on the details of the provincial policy.

** Update: After writing this post, I briefly spoke with Premier Eby (I approached him at an event), and he told me the City would be able to proceed with more-than-triplex zoning . **

The City will be required to move forward with allowing triplexes, and we will need to amend our zoning bylaw accordingly, and possibly build future policy starting from scratch.

The vast majority of voters I’ve spoken with who opposed the City’s MMHI are actually in favour of triplexes. And already I’ve noticed a big difference at the doorstep in how people talk about missing middle housing. It’s gone from being a divisive hot-button political issue to being a bit of a headscratcher / “interesting topic” where we can work together on policy ideas.

It is already a much better conversation. And I look forward to seeing and analyzing the details of the provincial proposal.