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Real Estate News - Laneway Housing

Laneway Housing Links

City Of Vancouver Laneway Housing - City of Vancouver Main Page

City of Vancouver Laneway Housing - Fact Sheet     

City of Vancouver Laneway Housing - Guidelines

Laneway Housing Regulations - See Section 11.24 - Bylaw Regulations  

Laneway Housing - Update March 2010      Update October 2010

Detailed checklist of application submission requirements - Construction of of Laneway House   

A laneway house is a smaller, detached home located where the garage would normally go on a single-family lot (RS zones). Laneway houses contribute to the overall sustainability of the city. They give people more opportunities to live close to where they work, shop, and play, and they make the city's urban lanes more green, liveable, and safe. Laneway housing also contributes to the amount of affordable rental housing available in the city. Laneway houses cannot be sold independently of the main house on the lot, there is no separate title for a laneway house, nor is it part of a strata lot (i.e. 1/2 duplexes, townhouse, or coach houses). a property is not subdivided when a laneway house is built.
Vancouver Sun Article

"Homeowners line up for permits to convert garages to living quarters" - By Rebecca teBrake, Vancouver Sun July 30, 2009

Almost two dozen Vancouver homeowners lined up Wednesday to inquire about replacing their garages with small second homes, a day after city council approved laneway housing.

The plan, approved unanimously by council on Tuesday, makes nearly 70,000 single-family lots potentially eligible to add a rental home to help out with the mortgage or house grandparents, grown children or caregivers.

By Wednesday, 23 homeowners had inquired whether they were eligible, kicking off the application process, which includes am $899 permit fee.

The homes are being touted by council and staff as an answer to Vancouver's lack of available and affordable housing.

"Our vacancy rate in our rental stock, in terms of our overall rental at 0.3 per cent, is very, very low and unacceptable," said Coun. Raymond Louie. "People that work in our city are having a very tough time living in our city. We are hoping that these spaces will become more affordable and available for these people."

"This is a very artful way to add density to the single-family neighbourhoods," said Brent Toderian, the city's director of planning.

Not everyone loves the idea. Toderian said he heard concerns about privacy, parking and congestion at meetings on the issue. The city only requires one parking space for the entire lot, which could have a main house, laneway house and a basement apartment.

Critics doubt the plan will actually increase affordability. "How much will they be paying to rent these laneway cottages and will that be affordable? In my view, the only affordable housing is subsidized housing and we need lots of it and we are not getting it," said Alicia Barsallo, a member of the Coalition for a Liveable Vancouver.

The city will monitor shadows, traffic patterns, privacy and noise levels once laneways houses are built, with an official staff report coming after the 100th house is up, Louie said.

Properties eligible for laneway housing must have a minimum width of 33 feet. Properties of that size can have a 500-square-foot home, while larger properties can have a maximum 750-square-foot laneway house.

Homeowners must retain one parking space on their lot, and a 16-foot buffer between the front of the laneway home and the back of the main house. Toderian estimates 65,000 homes would meet these requirements.

Vancouver resident Robbie Stewart has been itching to build a laneway house for months.

Stewart and his partner want to downsize after their 16-year-old daughter moves out. Laneway housing wasn't an option at first.

"We initially thought it was living in a garage," said Stewart, who hasn't applied with the city yet. "We had considered moving to a condo, but the problem is we don't like condos. We love the area we live in."

When the couple saw a model laneway home built by Smallworks at the home show this spring, they knew it was the perfect solution. The couple is making plans to convert their dilapidated 1945 garage into a beautiful.

Twenty-four other homeowners are lined up to work with Smallworks, a design/build company specializing in laneway houses. Smallworks co-owner Aaron Rosensweet said homes generally cost from $125,000 to $175,000.

"You are talking about these small cottages in the backyard rather than a garage," Rosensweet said. "To me it's a real opportunity to beautify those lanes and make those lanes more like our public spaces."

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Vancouver Province Article

Vancouver approves laneway housing - July 28, 2009
Vancouver will soon be home to more smaller homes.

City councillors voted unanimously Tuesday to allow laneway housing in a bid to keep families together and help aging homeowners stay where they are.

The new bylaw — popular in other parts of the world, but new to Canada — allows garages of single-family residences to be replaced by free-standing suites, or so-called “garden cottages.”

Instead of a house for your car, laneway houses will provide a house for your parent, adult child, caregiver or a regular tenant.

“It provides people to age in their neighbourhood and stay in the neighbourhood that they grew up in,” Coun. Raymond Louie told The Province.

He said the market will determine whether the added stock of housing will bring down rents in Canada’s most expensive urban area. “I hope it will bring up the vacancy rate,” which Louie said was 0.3 per cent.

By having more people living nearer their workplace, he said, it could also cut down on commutes by car.

“I am thrilled that this has passed,” said Coun. Suzanne Anton, the lone NPA voice on council.

“This is a piece of the EcoDensity initiative,” she said of an urban planning program by the previous, Non-Partisan-Association-dominated council.

“I think it shows Vancouver’s continued leadership in urban design and our continued awareness of how to live better. These laneway cottages will help families, they’ll help people with their mortgages.”

Before the vote, staff reported to council most people who attended two public hearings in the past week were in favour of the idea, but a substantial minority voiced strong concerns about higher density in their neighbourhood.

“I am very concerned about their concerns, and that’s why I’m interested in monitoring it,” said Anton.

Council voted to review the entire program after the first 100 applications have been made to city hall.

Areas of the city zoned for multi-family dwellings or apartments aren’t included.

© Copyright (c) The Province

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