Housing Society Unveils New Buildings

Local workers and families searching for affordable housing have attractive new options to choose from as the Greater Victoria Housing Society (GVHS) celebrates the opening of two new properties: Pembroke Mews, at 575 Pembroke Street, and Loreen Place, at 21 Gorge Road East.

The Pembroke Mews project involved the rehabilitation of a heritage industrial property built in 1914. It offers commercial space on the ground floor complemented by a mix of six studio apartments, nine junior one-bedroom suites, and 10 one-bedrooms.

Residents enjoy many benefits designed to get them out into the workforce, including a bicycle storage room, membership in the Victoria Car Share co-op, and a free one-month BC Transit pass.

“The redevelopment of this site promotes and extends the rejuvenation of the Government Street frontage north of the Old Town/Chinatown precinct,” says Ian Batey, a GVHS board member since 2004 who heads up the organization’s fund-raising initiatives.

Funding for Pembroke Mews came from CMHC, the Capital Region Housing Trust Fund, the City of Victoria, United Way of Greater Victoria, Coast Capital, and Home Depot Canada Foundation. The land was sold by John Knappett, a local contractor, at below market value in exchange for retaining ownership of the commercial portion of the strata.

“It’s been quite a success,” GVHS executive director Kaye Melleship tells Douglas.

“A lot of our residents work in service or retail in downtown Victoria, so this is really helping them in those entry-level jobs. Some are doing training and this gives them a decent home while they look to improve their skills. But we acknowledge that we can’t take on these projects alone, that we need strong partners in the local business community to accomplish our goals.”

Loreen Place, meanwhile, is a brand-new building that offers one one-bedroom apartment and 51 two-bedroom units ranging in size from 480 to 784 square feet. It opened March 1 and is targeted toward families.

The next GVHS project — its 15th — is already underway at the Friendly Inn, at 3935 Gorge Road. Pending re-zoning, the society will tear down the inn and erect a completely new building with 68 rental units plus five townhouses; the latter will be sold to generate income to offset construction costs of building.