>> Jan Firstbrook

Significant changes are coming to Fernwood and we have a say in how we would like our neighbourhood to be developed in the next 30 years. The Draft Neighbourhood Plan and the Missing Middle Housing Initiative are being proposed by city council. These plans impact all aspects of our neighbourhood—our parks, green leafy streets, parking, transportation, housing density, public squares, and urban villages along Bay Street and Fernwood Road.

The Missing Middle proposal, allows development of a 4-unit house plex on a single-family lot and up to 11 townhouses on a corner lot without any public engagement. Whereas, the proposed Fernwood neighbourhood plan allows greater increases to building heights on arterial streets as well as housing density along Bay Street, Walnut Street, and between Fernwood Road and Cook Street. While housing density is much needed, loss of affordable rentals and tenant displacement do not serve the community. Without a strong policy to protect renters these proposals exact a high social cost.

How will these changes affect our mature urban forest, our green leafy streets? Two thirds of the trees in Victoria are on private land in our yards and corner lots that will NOT be protected by the tree protection bylaw if they are in the way of a building footprint. In this time of climate emergency, mature trees play a valuable role: they regulate temperature, manage storm water, sequester carbon, and clean our smoky air. Our mature trees in the front yards and the corner lots are most at risk with the new zoning changes.

These plans are going to change the face of Fernwood and reshape the whole neighbourhood. The Fernwood Community Association land use committee wants to hear what you think about these proposals before they go to Public Hearings this summer. We need to work together to advocate for an increased density that lets us welcome new families to our neighbourhood while retaining its character: green and affordable! This is your chance to tell the city how you want your beloved Fernwood to grow in the future.

Please check out the proposed neighbourhood plan here or by going to the FCA home page at thefca.ca and following the links supplied in the draft neighbourhood plan to read Attachment C–Fernwood Neighbourhood Plan (2022)-1. And send your ideas by June 10, 2022 to the Fernwood Land Use Committee at fernwoodlanduse@gmail.com.