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Changes are coming to the laneway housing program

February 22 2013

Changes are coming to the laneway housing program.  Later this spring, staff will report to City Council with proposed amendments to the LWH regulations and guidelines and to expand the program to other single family zoned neighbourhoods.

Proposed amendments

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.

The history of laneway houses in Vancouver

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).

The laneway housing program plays an important role in achieving Council’s priorities to increase the supply of rental housing options across the city.  Laneway housing adds to the diversity of rental units in single family neighbourhoods by providing: 

  • An additional rental opportunity and housing choice beyond owning a house or renting a basement suite and more opportunity to live in detached and ground-oriented rental housing
  • Additional housing while preserving the existing streetscape and adding character, vibrancy and security to the lane
  • Housing for diverse groups of people including: seniors ready to downsize and live close to family but independently; adult children who want to live independently but cannot afford home ownership; and renters who want to live in established neighbourhoods in detached housing.

More about laneway housing in Vancouver

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

Laneway houses

Laneway houses create opportunities to increase the diversity of rental units in low density neighbourhoods.