A laneway home opens in east Vancouver

Post by Mike Klassen in


A 700 sq ft new detached home for under $200K is now ready to occupy

It must feel like an exciting day for supporters of the EcoDensity Initiative and of laneway housing. After much discussion and debate, the first laneway home under Vancouver's new policy guideline is ready to occupy. Today's story in the Vancouver Sun by crack reporter Jeff Lee provides great background and speaks with the builder Bryn Davidson of Lanefab. For some good visuals see this fine story from GlobalTV's Sophie Lui.

Laneway housing is one of those rare urban development policies that I felt on balance was widely greeted by our citizens. I attended open houses staged by the City where the tenor of discussion was extremely positive. Both seniors and young people – the folks who would benefit the most from this kind of housing – saw the upside in the concept. There were detractors, but they were few in number.

While I welcome the introduction of laneway housing into our city, I've always been aware of its possible shortcomings. If there was a lot of construction, it could be very disruptive to neighbourhoods. Then there is the environment of the typical back lane. These places tend to be much less inviting that the street out in front. I've been a big advocate of what I describe as improving laneway living – adding more greenery, landscaped surfaces, better sightlines and hiding away garbage receptacles.

For now we should just acknowledge this success for our city, and credit all of those along the way who made it happen. Back in February we posted a profile of West House, perhaps the best pavilion at Vancouver's LiveCity Yaletown destination, which shows an energy smart small house. See that profile & video here.


I am concerned about the results of laneway housing and parking. Sure the city can mandate how many off street parking spaces that must be provided, but is there a valid way of enforcing a property with a house with a suite, and a lane way house?

Honestly, Vancouver would be better off to just tear down an entire block of rotting stucco shacks and put up a decent low rise condominium. You'd have space for more home owners in a modern building with parking, green space, the whole enchilada. Laneway housing just creates more urban stress at a higher cost with less ROI.

I think they're great. It's a great way to increase density and make neighbourhoods more vibrant, especially in the vast majority of vancouver that is really quite resistant to anything higher.

But we also have to recognize this won't solve any housing affordability problems. At $1,900 a month, this home is going to be way, way out of reach for the majority of renters in Vancouver. We still need more purpose built rental, and probably we need policy changes at the federal and provincial levels, not just the city, for that to happen.

No Tessa, although you can't recognize this helps solve housing affordability problems, doesn't mean we should, too.

Yes, it is out of reach of most renters, because it is new Tessa. And new is costly. Many of those renters have vehicles, but they don't buy new, they buy used. Still with me? Some get great clothing that is used. And they're proud of it. Should we change policy, distort financial flows and impose unsustainable programs to allow solve the new-clothes affordability problem?

The people who can afford $1900 may be two singles who vacate their places, or someone who is paying $1450, but got promoted, or graduated and found a secure job. And those vacancies get occupied by someone paying $1000 who is also ready to move up, whose place then gets occupied by someone moving out of their parents place and being partially financially supported by them, or by someone who was in a couple but separated. Or possibly one of these vacant places is occupied by someone who has just moved to the region.

It's called trickle down, or filtering. Each new dwelling unit causes or is part of 4 to 5 moves, as it adds to the supply of housing stock. But new adds to the top of that. Why? Because most things are typically most costly when new Tessa.

Old Vehicles : New Vehicles
Used Clothing : New Clothing
I think you are mixing apples and oranges (with all due respect)
Try RENTING a old/rundown 1 bdrm in the East Village in NYC. With your logic G.deAuxerre, it should be very very affordable.

In concept this should be a good idea. Time will tell whether rents remain modest, or soar. They look nice and seem well made. They could solve many problems, but no doubt will also create countless additional problems.

Laneway houses are a great way to add density to areas of the city that are otherwise suburban.

The goal is to create enough density so that transit and walkable shopping becomes viable. This reduces use of cars.

Unlike condos, laneway houses retain green space and permeability.

The sanctimonious green activists used to call it 'urban blight'. Now they sanctimoniously call it ecodensity.

And where is the logic of this. Suggest we build more highway access to the city and they howl that it will only fill up and we will be in the same situation soon again with highways full. Yet when we talk about 'ecodensity', it never occurs to anyone that the same thing will happen? I am sorry, but if you want a liveable city you have to stop GROWING it. And density does the opposite. Just look at the West End if you want to see where this is leading.
Urban blight by any other name is still... urban blight.

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