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Laneways Around the World: Vancouver

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With Laneway and Garden Suites on the rise, it is important to look at suites across the globe as case studies to understand the differences and similarities compared to Toronto.

Vancouver was one of the first cities in Canada to explore and legally pass the concept of backyard housing units. While back lane housing is not a very new concept - often referred to as granny flats, infill housing, coach houses, or accessory units - the people of Vancouver envisioned a new way of housing which would be appropriate for single-family areas that have the intention of renting the added space on their own property.

In 2009, the Council approved laneway housing regulations and guidelines for properties in some of the residential (RS-1 and RS-5) single-family districts, which made up approximately 94% of the city’s single-family properties.

In November 2010, the staff reported to the City Council with a Monitoring Report on Laneway Housing Development, after 100 laneway housing permits were issued. The new amendments to the program were created as a response to documented issues by:

  • Supporting the development of more one storey laneway houses, which have less effect on neighbours and are more attainable for families with small children and the aging population.

  • Transforming laneway housing into more livable spaces by allowing more floor area for living and storage space without increasing the overall scale of the units.

  • Offering a faster permit process for one-storey laneway houses, and ensuring the provision of on-site parking.

In 2018, Council introduced new changes to the Zoning and Development Bylaw to simplify the laneway home regulations, make it easier and more affordable to build laneway houses, and improve the livability of new laneway houses. As a result, the new updates have replaced previous Laneway Housing Guidelines.

The key changes include:

  • Introducing an instant review process for 1.5 storey laneway houses

  • Changing the method of measuring height

  • Increasing maximum allowable heights

  • Relaxing dormer regulations to allow greater design flexibility on the second floor

  • Introducing minimum room size requirements

  • Providing more flexibility for siting one-storey laneway houses

Vancouver is a great example of how far laneway housing has come and shows with close monitoring of the development, the regulations can always be updated in order to act as a method of improving and enriching the neighbourhoods.

If you are interested in Garden/Laneway Suites or have any further questions, please send us an email or book a meeting.


Lawn Strip

House Your Family. Build An Income Stream. Downsize.

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