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Alleys and laneways

In addition to having an incredible mountain just 12 miles away, the town of Jackson is also a really cool place in its own right. It’s a cowboy town with endless wilderness all around it. But since it’s such a big tourist destination, the town is filled with great restaurants, art galleries, and the obligatory real estate brokerages trying to sell vacation properties.

Here’s what the town looks like from the top of Snow King (the in-town ski mountain). Photo credit: David Stubbs for the New York Times.

But from a land use standpoint, I also find the town really interesting because of its network of fine grain alleys. Here’s a picture of Gaslight Alley. For those of you who are regular readers of this blog, you’re probably aware that I’m a big supporter of laneway housing in Toronto. I think it’s a hidden opportunity. It could be another—more intimate—layer to the city.

Today, building a laneway house is virtually a non-starter with the City of Toronto. Whether it’s issues of utilities or the fact that laneways don’t easily accommodate service vehicles (maybe we need smaller service vehicles), the city has a litany of reasons for why they just won’t work.

But I’m absolutely certain that we could figure out solutions to all of the obstacles if we really put our minds to it. It’s not a question of not being able to do it, it’s a question of not wanting to do it.

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