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What is a “Laneway House"? And Why Does Vancouver Have them and Not Toronto?

Posted by Nicholas Searle ot 05:55 PM

The Toronto & East York Community Council (TEYCC) recently released a report called "Changing Lanes: The City of Toronto's Review of Laneway Suites".

The report still needs Toronto City Council approval before the way is cleared for permitting, regulating and setting guidelines for laneway suites. 



What is a “Laneway Suite”? 


Many cities across North America have enacted this legislation, including the city of Vancouver which adopted this legally in 2016. A “laneway suite” is also known as a “coach house or laneway house” and it is essentially a secondary property at the back of the existing home or dwelling on the land, which can be leased out or potentially sold by the owners. It is also called an “auxiliary housing unit”.



According to the city of Vancouver website: “A laneway house is a smaller, detached home located where the garage would normally go on a single-family lot. Laneway houses contribute to the overall sustainability of the city. They give people more opportunities to live close to where they work, shop, and play, and they make the city's urban lanes more green, liveable, and safe. Laneway housing also contributes to the amount of affordable rental housing available in the city.” https://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/building-your-laneway-house.aspx



How big can I build a Laneway house?



In Vancouver, the ability to build a laneway house on your property depends on the width of your land. You can build a laneway house on any lot 32 feet or wider in any residential single family zone in Vancouver. Since 2016, more than 2,000 laneway houses have been built in Vancouver, and other municipalities are following Vancouver's lead.



This legislation is not yet passed in Toronto. The Toronto Real Estate Board has supported the passing of this legislation and strongly believes that it can alleviate the supply of affordable housing and long-term rental stock in Toronto. Toronto currently has a very low rental vacancy rate (less than 1%) and this continues to drive prices up. It’s a case of supply and demand economics.



Laneway houses have been built in the United Kingdom as well, where they have often been referred to as the “Granny Cottage”. They offer opportunities for multigenerational living, and allow families to stay united with the Grand Parents while still maintaining some privacy for each generation.



Hopefully Toronto will soon pass this much needed legislation.



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