Here is my position with regards to the Northern Junk proposal for city lands and private lands at the foot of Johnson Street:
- The previous council erred in providing the opportunity to a single developer to envision possibilities for this prime downtown real estate;
- In light of the Johnson Street Bridge project, the first step should be for council and staff to determine the final design for the easterly (downtown side) bridgehead;
- Council should then inventory city land in the vicinity of the bridgehead (including the proposed land adjacent to Northern Junk) to determine whether any of this land is surplus (exploring all options, including greenspace and future uses such as a railway station);
- If land is determined to be surplus, consider whether such land can meet the city’s social priorities (vis a vis affordable housing), through discussions with BC Housing, VIHA and not-for-profit providers;
- If a stand-alone publicly financed housing initiative is deemed impractical, the City should consider issuing a Request for Proposals to the private sector, with priority given to applications that (1) partner with social housing providers; (2) provide public access to the harbour front; and (3) enhance the heritage character of Old Town;
- Throughout the foregoing process, the City should work with the owner of the Northern Junk properties to affirm the city’s ongoing interest in the restoration of these heritage buildings and the expansion of public access to Victoria’s harbour front.
For more info, read this media report.