A couple of weeks ago I wrote my position on increasing density in Grandview. One of the suggestions I made was:
“Lot owners currently with SFH or duplexes should be allowed and encouraged (by a reduction in the City’s expensive development procedures) to have three housing units on each lot. This would generally be two suites in the main house and a laneway or similar building.”
I am glad to report that a similar suggestion is part of a new proposal before City Council:
“The report also suggests changes for Mount Pleasant and Grandview-Woodland areas (RT zones) that would increase housing options on 4,800 properties. The suggested changes include: increasing the number of homes permitted on a 33-foot lot; allowing laneway homes to be built for rent or sale; and permitting owners of large lots to build four-plexes.”
My own preference would be for these laneway houses to remain as rentals rather than sold as strata. This would boost that kind of vitally needed stock and provide a steady income to the lot owner rather than a one-time windfall with a house that few could afford to buy.
Apart from the zoning changes proposed, we would see a great deal more movement in this area if the cost of building a laneway house could be made more reasonable. My understanding is that city permits and certain city regulations add many tens of thousands to the cost of building and add months to each project. These need to be trimmed to the least requirements.
In addition, we need to get creative about what we use as “laneway houses”. For one example, manufactured houses of all kinds can be bought and erected far less expensively than traditional brick and mortar. Another example, suggested by local engineer Eric Philips, would be to take some of the well-built heritage cottages we have on large lots and physically move them to a laneway site elsewhere; this would provide a far-less-expensive laneway house and provide an empty lot for new construction.
Whatever new zoning is approved, the regulations and bureaucracy must allow wide latitude for creative thinking.