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Laneway housing speakers extend to second night

July 22nd, 2009 · 7 Comments

It is a busy week at council (and going to continue to be busy — council meetings have been scheduled for next week as well because of the heavy pre-August break load of business) and one of the busier meetings was the public hearing last night. Secondary suites inside apartments were approved, but the hearing only got through about half the laneway-housing speakers.

I wasn’t able to be there or even listen in on my laptop, as I like to do, because of other commitments, but I hear it was lively,lots of personal stories being told to back up people’s support for (mostly) and opposition to (four? speakers) this new kind of housing that could add thousands of new living places to this city.

Anyone who was there are presented or has thoughts is invited to weigh in here on. I gather from our radio program yesterday that one of the issues is the debate over whether they should be required to have one or two parking spots for each lane house. Personally, it’s hard for me to see how you could create a house and two full parking spots on a 33-foot lot without the place starting to look like a Manila shantytown, but that’s just my opinion.

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  • Frances, well I was there and somewhat surprisingly, was the only person to specifically speak in favour of the need for two parking spaces during the trial period. Now many of you know that in the past I have been an ardent supporter of reduced parking for residential projects. So why did I advocate for two spaces?

    I also advocated for more discretion for the Director of Planning to consider variations on the theme during this trial period. This was intended to allow deeper single level units, instead of 1 1/2 storey (well really 2 storey) units in some situations. While I appreciate this approach could generate more work for staff, I think it could result in better solutions. This idea may get legs, since it was also supported by the evening’s last speaker, Bob Williams!

    If anyone is interested, I have posted my speaking notes and observations of the meeting on my blog at

  • Lane-way housing . . . a very very big improvement . . . variegated building typologies mark a sophisticated planning process . . .

    Last night was . . . reminiscent of the secondary suite issues some years ago . . . illegal secondary suites abounded in Point Grey out of student necessity. Shaughnessy obviously voted no . . .

    For Little Mountain they were a godsend for many reasons . . .

    Lane-way houses are similar . . . an absolute godsend for some areas . . . Shaughnessy predictable will go no . . .

    may I humbly suggest to VPD that different areas of the city have differing needs and opinions . . .

    . . . respect the differences . . . plan accordingly . . .

  • Joe Just Joe

    I just can’t get behind the secondary suites in apartments, but that being said I’m all for them in homes, and for laneway housing.
    In fact I’d like to see a step up from laneway housings and some infill units on deep lots.
    I agree with Michael with the need for reduced parking and that laneway housing should still produce at least 1 spot per living unit, otherwise we will get crowded streets, fighting amongst neighbours over parking stalls etc. Best to avoid it, if the spot isn’t needed, there is always a need for more storage space.

  • Tessa

    I just don’t see why council should force people to make a parking spot, when in some situations people know it won’t be necessary. Don’t some streets have resident parking only? I presume there’s some kind of decal, so can’t you just make a limit of one car on the street for each lot? I don’t know, never lived in the City proper, I’ve just seen signs, but that’s one way it could work.

  • Joe Just Joe

    The problem with relying on street parking for residents is where do guests end up parking when they visit? Where does the pizza guy park his car or the brink when they deliver your new sofa.
    Residential parking is best done onsite, leaving street parking open (ideally metered) for other needs.

  • WW

    There’s no way to have two parking spaces and a coach house on a 33′ lot unless you build the coach house above the parking. There are a number of laneway homes in my neighbourhood (Commercial Drive area).

    My sister-in-law lives in a lane-oriented coach house that is 20X20 with room beside it to park her Toyota Echo (but nothing much bigger). This fills the 33′ width.

    Nearby there are some newer coach houses built over parking where one spot is for the coach house owner/dweller and the other is for the owner of the main house. This works too, but makes for a much bigger structure.

    To have room for two cars, you’d be talking about a house 10′ wide, which seems a bit small.

  • Joe Just Joe

    Most of the proposals I’ve seen are what they call 1.5 stories in height, so yes most of the the living space is above the cars.