City approves improvements to Laneway Housing Program

July 24 2018

"We've heard loud and clear that Vancouver residents want more housing choices and laneway homes are a great option for middle-income households," said Mayor Gregor Robertson

Laneway house

Bylaw changes that will improve livability and make it easier and more cost effective to build laneway houses have been approved by Council in a move that will help meet the Housing Vancouver target of providing 4,000 new laneway homes over the next 10 years.

"It's great to see City Council support changes to get more laneway homes built in neighbourhoods across the city," said Mayor Gregor Robertson. "We've heard loud and clear that Vancouver residents want more housing choices and laneway homes are a great option for middle-income households."

Key benefits resulting from the change

  • Streamlining approvals for one and a half storey laneway homes by introducing an outright review process similar to the current process for one storey laneway homes
  • Supporting more functional and flexible laneway home design by increasing allowable heights and updating the method of measuring height
  • Improving livability by introducing minimum room size requirements
  • Providing more flexibility for the location and design of one-storey laneway houses

Enactment of the approved changes is expected in September 2018.

"These changes are a result of consultation with the public through Housing Vancouver about housing needs, as well as focused engagement with owners and renters of laneway homes, industry engagement, and staff analysis," says Paula Huber, Senior Planner. "By removing identified barriers to building a laneway home, we are making it easier and faster to build the type of housing we know people want and need."

Opportunities from laneway houses

The Laneway Housing Program has been in place since 2009, and to date more than 3,300 laneway homes have been approved across the city. Laneway houses create opportunities to increase the diversity of rental units in low density neighbourhoods by providing:

  • An additional housing option beyond owning a house or renting a basement suite
  • More opportunities to live in detached and ground-oriented rental housing
  • Housing to meet the needs of diverse groups, 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 neighbourhoods across the city, close to their jobs, services, and frequent transit