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How Vancouver assesses laneway house eligibility


Vancouver has supported laneway houses since 2009. So today I thought I would take a look at what their policy considers to be an “eligible lot.” All of the information for this post was taken from this laneway housing how-to guide dated November 2016.

Here are some of the main ways in which they assess eligibility:

  • Laneway houses are allowed on all lots in the following zones: RS single family zones, RT-11/11N, RM-
    7/7N, RM-8/8N, RM-9/9N and RM-9A/9AN.
  • LWHs are permitted in addition to a secondary suite within the main house.
  • LWHs can be for family use or for rental.
  • LWHs are permitted on lots with a minimum width of 9.8m (32.15′). But provided they are designed appropriately, planning may also allow LWHs on lots as narrow as 7.3m (23′).
  • The LWH site must have access to an open lane.
  • A fire access path must be provided from the street along one of the sideyards to the entrance of the LWH. This path needs to have a clear width of 900mm.
  • The lot must be deep enough to allow for a both a LWH and a backyard open space.
  • The LWH and the main house must have a minimum separation distance of 4.9m (16′).

If you’re a regular reader of this blog and wondering how Mackay Laneway House stacks up against the above criteria, here are the test results:

  • The lot is in a Residential R Zone, which permits a variety of different building types ranging from detached houses to fourplexes and apartment buildings.
  • The lot width is 7.62m, which exceeds the lower minimum dimension.
  • There is a lane.
  • The access path on the sideyard is 2.38m, but with a bay window projecting into it. So net, it’s closer to 2m, which still greatly exceeds the minimum clear width above.
  • The design includes for a generous backyard between the main house and the proposed LWH. 
  • The separation distance between the first floor of the main house and the proposed LWH is 7.5m (24′-7″). The main house steps back on the second floor, and so this distance would then increase. But in all cases, the minimum dimension is easily exceeded.

If you’d like to learn more about laneway housing in Vancouver, click here.

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