July 21, 2017

You Can Buy a Vancouver Laneway House!

Image Vancouver Sun
As reported by Jen St. Denis in the Metro News there’s some big changes coming for single family homes that add laneway houses to their properties. In some areas, laneway houses will be allowed to be stratified and sold, but ONLY if the original character home remains on the same lot.
This is a big, but not unexpected change. Originally the laneway house concept came out of the CityPlan process as a way for older home owners to have a “granny flat” and leave the house for the kids. But like the basement suite which went from unauthorized to allowed in single family zoned areas in the city within a decade, City Planner Gil Kelley notes that the new proposed strata coach house  provides ” a set of enhanced options for more units on lots in the low-density zones. These would be the option of individual owners coming forward, so it’s very much single lot owner driven infill development — it’s not developer sponsored.”
Laneway houses that are already built or lots where the original house is NOT a character house will not be allowed to strata the laneway house.  On the westside there has been a trend to demolish character homes and replace them with much larger ones. The proposed zoning would apply to all RS (single family) zoned areas. As Gil Kelley notes, if one or two per cent of homeowners build new laneway houses, that could “represent thousands of new homes for rent or ownership”.
Also noted in the Council report going up next Tuesday was that in the RT zoning areas in Mount Pleasant and Woodlands, the number of units on a single 33 foot lot will increase to three units from two units. This will be accomplished by “a new detached form for duplexes that allows for two separate houses on a lot, with a larger house at the front and a smaller house at the lane:” essentially, a coach house behind a main house”. 
These are small but important changes to provide a variety of different housing forms as the city deals with affordability and accessibility to housing in the city. While the Council report goes to Council next week, the changes will not be enacted until after a Public Hearing,  expected this September.
Three bedroom challenge

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