These awards are meant to recognize and celebrate those that have had a positive impact on both communities and the urban landscape, as well as those that have demonstrated strategic planning and efficient land use.
“It’s important that our developers are recognized for the work that they do,” says Kathy Whitcher, UDI’s executive director. “They’re there to create livable spaces, not just to make money.”
Chosen on a biannual basis, developers from the Lower Mainland, the Okanagan and Vancouver Island submit their projects for review, and UDI chooses winners based on 17 categories.
Vivid at the Yates by Chard Development won the award for Non Market Housing; Esquimalt Town Centre by Aragon took home the Best of Vancouver Island; Tiny Homes Village by Aryze Developments won for Innovations in Affordability; and Sawyer Block by The Salient Group was honoured for Purpose Built Market Rental Low Rise.
Whitcher says this last decade has seen a considerable push to create rental housing. However, with interest rates, labour and material costs increasing— as well as the supply chain issues — Whitcher believes that this window of opportunity is closing. “We’re in a housing crisis,” she says, “and we have been for years. If this window is closing, that’s going to cause problems; we’re not going to get the housing that we need, and we need it.”
UDI is working with different levels of government to help incentivize rental properties. With so many people now working from home, Whitcher says that the UDI is recognizing the need to create more compact communities where people can live, work and play — all within a 15-minute walk. She calls this the “15-minute neighbourhood.”
“This will help to lessen the strain on climate change and help people rely less on their cars,” she explains.
This year’s Capital Region winners were all featured in walkable communities, and Whitcher says that Victoria residents can expect to see even more 15-minute neighbourhoods.