Home Business & Economy Housing Christie Point renters pitch highlights how developers need flexibility

Christie Point renters pitch highlights how developers need flexibility

Renters complain that building upgrades are not their cross to bear.

christie point, view royal, map
The Christie Point apartments are on prime waterfront at Portage Inlet on the Gorge. [Google map]
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Friday June 21, 2024 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated 11:50 am]

Socioeconomic analysis by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends


Renters at an older apartment building complex in Victoria don’t want to pay for additional costs for property repair and upgrade.

Five apartment buildings and four townhome buildings collectively are called Christie Point.

The residential holding is on prime waterfront in the Town of View Royal, on a tiny peninsula of land that juts into Portage Inlet at the tip of the Gorge Waterway. If sea levels rise, that could be a less desirable spot. It probably makes sense to build a new sort of complex at that location.

The Christie Point apartments were built during the early 1960s as temporary housing, prior to View Royal becoming incorporated. In 2017, Toronto-based Realstar Group won rezoning from View Royal council to build seven buildings up to six storeys high containing 473 units on the site.

christie point, apartments, view royal, map
The Christie Point apartments are on prime waterfront at Portage Inlet on the Gorge. [Google map]

Desirable features:

Meanwhile, Christie Point Apartments are a lovely spot that has retained many long-term tenants who enjoy relatively protected levels of rent compared to new construction and the open market.

  • Water and heat are included.
  • Townhouses all have in-suite laundry.
  • There is a heated outdoor pool.
  • Dogs and cats welcome.

There’s not much like that left in Greater Victoria these days, and the people who live there feel like a distinct community.

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Two-and-three-bedroom units:

Christie Point Apartments consists of five two-storey apartment buildings with what it describes as spacious two- and three-bedroom suites and four two-storey townhome buildings with three-bedroom townhomes for rent.

Larger units like this are often hard to come by in the Greater Victoria rental market.

A growing interest in Victoria:

Christie Point is one of three apartment building locations in Victoria that are owned and operated by Killam Apartment REIT, based out of Halifax.

The other two are Craigflower House at 899 Craigflower (also an older building), and The Crossing at Belmont (a new building in the modernizing City of Langford).

Killam also has one building in Courtenay, further up Vancouver Island.

Based on the east coast, Killam has many holdings in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland. They also have several properties in Ontario (including Toronto, Ottawa and Waterloo) and Alberta (including both Calgary and Edmonton).

Empathetic town council:

At the June 18 Town of View Royal council meeting there was room made in the evening (during Public Participation) for public concerns to be heard from Christie Point residents who have concerns. They were speaking to correspondence on the agenda.

view royal council, june 2024
Town of View Royal council meeting on June 18, 2024. [Island Social Trends]

Concerns were around an application from Killam to the BC Residential Tenancy Branch to increase the rent by $150/month for current tenancies at Christie Point, that if successful then the residents feel they will be covering the cost of capital improvements. That was argued by several residents who addressed View Royal council on Tuesday evening. Apparently about 50 tenants would be affected.

After council heard the input, View Royal Mayor Sid Tobias encouraged the frustrated residents to seek media attention about this issue, essentially saying it was beyond the realm of what the municipality could do.

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Developers need flexibility:

Obviously an apartment building owner wants to retain tenants — that’s their income source. Obviously any apartment owner is aware of the rental shortages in most cities across Canada.

Where an apartment owner wants to continue offering accommodation to tenants there will always be considerations of property upkeep.

Limiting the annual rent increase by legislation (currently 3.5%, with no indexing to inflation) is often not enough for a building owner to maintain and repair older buildings in particular.

The government needs private developers to remain on board with providing rental housing during what is clearly a nation-wide housing crisis but especially in urban areas.

Tenants will push for their rights — no one wants to pay more, especially when wages and incomes are not keeping up with inflation. The government (through the Residential Tenancy Branch) may be seen to relent on this one, to keep these people housed albeit with an additional rent increase.

tax deadline, langford, 2024

That would avoid having to support tenants in transition to other locations (if that were even in the cards).

Most likely, the system will remain the same — people who are priced out of their current accommodations will have to move and seek a new location elsewhere. But rents paid by people in such instances could jump substantially overnight.

The RTB may just determine that residents are better off paying $150/month more than being set loose into the open market where they would probably fare much worse.

Developing issue:

During an election season here in BC, the housing minister may wish to weigh in on the concerns of all tenants who are caught in a significant life-impact squeeze.

In the past 18 months, the provincial government has been rolling out a range of legislation designed to increase housing supply in various ways.

Generally speaking, the sentiment in View Royal (many residents and also council) is that the provincial government has exercised overreach. Back in November 2023 View Royal held their ‘last public hearing’ to allow the public to vent their frustration with changes to zoning and other aspects of housing — most of it not supportive of what the BC NDP had done with housing legislation though some support was expressed in favour (including by former NDP MLA Moe Sihota).

housing minister, ravi kahlon
Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon at Vancouver affordable housing announcement on May 23, 2024. [livestream]

Most renters will not likely ever be able to afford to buy into home ownership. Renters are a significant political force that is often overlooked both municipally and provincially.

Today Island Social Trends has requested further comment from the municipality, as well as statements from Killam Apartment REIT and also the Ministry of Housing.

===== RELATED:

View Royal town hall: housing shortage, societal change, government overreach (November 24, 2023)

NEWS SECTIONS: HOUSING | POLITICS | BC ELECTION 2024

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===== ABOUT ISLAND SOCIAL TRENDS:

Island Social Trends has been covering news of the south Vancouver Island region and provincial issues since 2020, guided through a socioeconomic lens with political analysis by Mary P Brooke, Editor.

This comes on the heels of a news focus on the west shore region of Greater Victoria during 2008-2020.