Laneway houses

A 1½ floor, 643 square foot laneway house on a 44 foot wide property

Laneway houses are an excellent way to increase the diversity of rental units in single family neighbourhoods, by providing:

  • An additional opportunity beyond owning a house or renting a basement suite
  • More opportunity to live in detached and ground-oriented rental housing
  • Additional housing that preserves the existing streetscape and adds character, vibrancy, and security to the lane
  • Housing for diverse groups of people, including seniors ready to downsize, adult children who want to live independently, and renters who want to live in detached housing
  • More opportunities for people to live in the city, close to their jobs, services, and frequent transit

Laneway housing plays an important role in achieving Council’s priorities to increase the supply of rental housing options across the city.

Build a laneway house

Council approves amendments and program expansion

July 9, 2013 – Council approved amendments to the laneway housing regulations.

Proposed amendments and program expansion referred to June 11th public hearing

May 15, 2013 – Council referred proposed amendments to the laneway housing regulations and guidelines, and expansion of the program to Public Hearing on June 11th, 2013. If Council approves the amendments and expansion after hearing from the public, the new regulations should be enacted in early July.

What do you think about our proposed amendments and program expansion?

March 7, 2013 – The survey closed March 15, 2013. Thank you for your interest.

Information session on proposed laneway housing changes

February 22, 2013 – Come to an information session to learn more about proposed changes to the City’s laneway housing program. Currently, laneway houses are permitted in certain single-family zones (RS-1 and RS-5) in the city. We are looking at amending the program to improve the fit of these homes in neighbourhoods and expand where they can be built, to create more livable units. City staff will be on hand to answer questions.

See the Documents tab to view the information boards presented at these information sessions.

  • Date: March 6, 2013
    Time: 4:00pm -7.30pm
    Location: Polish Community Centre, 4015 Fraser Street, Main Hall
  • Date: March 7, 2013
    Time: 4:00pm-7.30pm
    Location: Hellenic Community Centre, 4500 Arbutus Street, Small Hall

Changes are coming to the laneway housing program this spring

February 22, 2013 – Later this spring, staff will report to Council with proposed amendments to the program regulations and guidelines, and to expand the program to other single-family zoned neighbourhoods.

We have been monitoring laneway housing development and have identified key issues related to neighbourliness, livability, permit processing and the provision of parking.  Proposed amendments to the program will respond to these issues by:

  • Encouraging the development of more one storey laneway housing, which have less impact on neighbours and are more accessible for an aging population and families with small children
  • Making laneway housing more livable by allowing more floor area for living and storage space without increasing the size of the house
  • Allowing a faster permit process for one storey laneway houses, and ensuring the provision of on-site parking.

In addition to the improvements to the current regulations and guidelines, the laneway housing program will be expanded into the other RS zones of RS-1A, RS-1B, RS-3/3A, RS-4, RS-6 and RS-7.

March 2013 proposed changes to laneway housing program

View the information boards that outline proposed amendments to the City's laneway housing program. These boards were displayed during information sessions held March 6 and 7, 2013.

Monitoring updates

Since 2009, when the laneway housing program was adopted, over 800 permits for laneway houses have been issued and over 500 laneway houses have now been built across the city in the single family RS-1 and RS-5 zones (which make up 94% of single family lots in the city).

We have been monitoring laneway housing development and have identified key issues related to neighbourliness, livability, permit processing and the provision of parking.  Proposed amendments to the program will respond to these issues by:

  • Encouraging the development of more one storey laneway houses, which have less impact on neighbours and are more accessible for an aging population and families with small children
  • Making laneway houses more livable by allowing more floor area for living and storage space without increasing the size of laneway houses
  • Allowing a faster permit process for one storey laneway houses
  • Ensuring the provision of on-site parking 

In addition to the improvements to the current regulations and guidelines, the laneway housing program will be expanded into the other RS zones of RS-1A, RS-1B, RS-3/3A, RS-4, RS-6 and RS-7.

Housing on back lanes is not a new concept. It exists in many cities, and is typically called coach houses, granny flats, accessory units, or infill housing. 

In Vancouver, there have long been some zones (mostly located in older areas, such as Kitsilano, Mt Pleasant, Grandview-Woodland) that permit a form of housing called ‘Infill’. 

However, during public dialogue in 2007-2008, people were envisioning a new form of housing that would be especially suited to the city’s single family areas, with more of the concept of a rental cottage on the lane that individual homeowners could add to their own property, while keeping their main house.

In July 2009, Council adopted laneway housing regulations and guidelines for properties in the RS-1 and RS-5 single family districts, which make up 94% of the city’s single family lots.

After 100 laneway housing permits were issued, staff reported to City Council with a Monitoring Report on Laneway Housing Development in November 2010.  Council directed staff to report back with amendments to address key issues of neighbourliness, livability, and length of the permitting process. 

Staff will report to Council with proposed amendments to the Laneway Housing regulations and guidelines and expansion of the Laneway Housing program into new RS districts in Spring 2013. 


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Questions about laneway housing policy?

Contact the Planning Department

laneway.housing
@vancouver.ca

Contact the Development and Building Services Centre

Location
515 West 10th Ave, at Cambie
Ground floor

Free 2-hour parking
West 10th Ave parking lot,
between Cambie and Yukon

Phone: 604-873-7611

Hours
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
8:30am to 4:30pm

Tuesday, Thursday
8:30am to 4:00pm

Last modified: Fri, 08 Nov 2013 11:39:05