Redirect the $50M for the Caledonia Project to repurpose existing homes
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In September 2018, the City of Victoria and School District 61 signed a Letter of Intent to lease over 2 acres of Vic High grounds for the proposed Caledonia Housing Project. Affordable housing is an urgent local issue that primarily affects young people and families. There are few options being presented to the public, making the project seem necessary. However, Vic High requires this site for current and future educational infrastructure. Given the circumstances, our community has been handed an unfair ethical dilemma. Members of our community have expressed concern about the impact this project would have on the quality of education at Vic High; however, they have also shown great reluctance to oppose the prospect of more affordable housing, given the urgency of the problem.
Affordable housing or education? We believe that there's no moral high ground in this conversation; the two issues are fundamentally connected. With your help, we can mobilize to meet both needs through petitioning the City of Victoria and the Province of BC. We propose that the $50M set aside for the Caledonia Project is redirected to purchase and repurpose existing housing.
By redirecting the $50M, with help from the Province of BC, the City of Victoria would also be able to:
- Honour their commitment to match funding for Vic High’s Revitalized Stadium—and finally complete the project.
- Let Vic High keep its green space, including the veggie garden (see below for how the housing project may impact green space).
- Help fund a geothermal heating system, making Vic High BC’s first zero-emission school.
- Build an inner-city skatepark (or other community resource) on the Vic High grounds.
WHY VIC HIGH NEEDS THE FAIREY TECH LOT
As aforementioned, the former Fairey Tech grounds are essential to Vic High's learning infrastructure. In January 2018, prior to the housing project proposal, the Alumni Association completed the first phase of fundraising for the long-awaited Revitalized Stadium. These plans to replace Vic High's 70-year old stadium require a part of the former Fairey Tech lot, overlapping the proposed area for the housing.
Additionally, Vic High's Seismic Upgrade requires the construction of a Neighbourhood Learning Centre (NLC), including parking facilities. If the NLC cannot be built on the former Fairey Tech grounds, it will be built on the north end of the school, compromising the remaining green space in that area, including the veggie garden. Although requests to see site plans for the NLC have been made since December 2019, these site plans have been withheld from the public.
THE HOUSING AFFORDABILITY CRISIS
The City of Victoria and the Province have recently purchased private property to provide immediate relief to un-housed families and individuals during COVID19. This model can also be applied to the affordability crisis. The City's current approaches to creating affordable housing require the private sector to respond to the crisis and public schools to give up valuable space. These approaches result in a slow response to an urgent crisis; the proposed Caledonia Project would take at least 2 years to complete and remains a bandaid on the systemic issue of wealth disparity.
Ultimately, we need housing now, and students and community members will always need space to learn and grow. With the purchase and repurposing of existing housing, both of these needs can be fulfilled.
This issue is complicated, and has many layers regarding financing and bureaucratic processes. To learn more, you can visit our website.
We are making this petition accessible to those beyond Victoria because we know that Alumni/former residents are based around the world, and that ultimately, the issue of affordability is global. With this in mind, please consider adding a comment to explain your relationship to this issue (i.e. Alumnus, Current Student, Resident of Victoria, etc).
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