Key Engagement Findings: Laneway and Carriage Houses

Engagement on the Infill Housing program involved two separate surveys and in-person interviews with past program participants.

  • A community survey was posted online on the City’s Be Heard New West site from May 10 to June 12, 2022. 152 respondents participated in the survey.
  • A survey specifically for Infill Housing program participants (owners, designers, builders) was emailed to applicants and owners, and open from May 10 to June 12, 2022. 38 respondents participated in the survey.
  • Staff also interviewed five past laneway and carriage house program participants (owners, designers, builders).

Click here to review the Laneway House and Carriage House What We Heard Report. A summary of the key findings is provided below.

Community Survey

  • The community survey found predominant support for the laneway and carriage house program, and an interest in seeing more projects come online, through a relaxation of regulations, streamlining of process, and reduction in costs.
  • Some survey participants remain concerned about overlook and traffic impacts from laneway and carriage houses.
  • Respondents are interested in the City providing laneway house plans for purchase, as well as examples of successful past projects.
  • When asked about which regulations are too restrictive, respondents listed a wide range, including the restriction on stratification, the limitation on the size of the dwelling, the Development Permit review process, the servicing requirements and tree-related requirements. Respondents called for permitting larger, more livable laneway and carriage houses.
  • Most respondents were not sure whether the program is successfully balancing creating livable housing with buildings that are good neighbours, but those that feel this balance has not been struck suggest: more laneway houses need to be enabled, the massing of principal dwellings needs to be reduced, sufficient parking needs to be provided, and greenspace better protected.
  • Similarly, most respondents were not sure whether the program is improving the safety and walkability of lanes, making them more vibrant spaces. Those that had concerns about this suggested that more lighting be added to lanes, parking in lanes be further restricted, and expressed their concern about traffic in lanes.

Infill Housing Program Participant Survey

  • Most Infill Housing Program participants who responded to the survey describe their experience with the City’s application and approval process as challenging. Key concerns were the length of the process, high utility and servicing costs, and the feeling that guidelines are subjective, submission requirements overly complex, and tree requirements too onerous.
  • Infill Housing Program participants who took the survey appreciate the staff support provided, including from the Planning and Building divisions, and Energy Save New West. Those surveyed also appreciate the removal of the requirement for neighbour consultation given the extensive consultation that occurred through the development of the program.
  • Respondents expressed that the time and cost of developing a laneway house could be best reduced by reducing the Development Permit review time, and allowing Building Permit applications earlier in the process. Respondents also requested earlier utility and servicing upgrade cost estimates, simplified submission requirements (including simplified landscape drawing requirements), and more flexibility on substitution of materials during construction.
  • Infill Housing Program participants requested more flexibility in the design guidelines, including allowing for more clear eye-level windows, and more flexibility on planting strips, permeable surfacing, and trees.
  • Regarding zoning regulations, Infill Housing Program participants requested loosened floor area regulations, permission for a larger enclosed garage, and permission for taller bicycle storage areas.
  • Respondents suggested higher Step Code levels could be reached through allowing more relaxations to the laneway house design guidelines. Respondents noted achieving air tightness is challenging, as is meeting higher tiers in the Step Code for smaller buildings.
  • Respondents noted that the Supplemental Guidelines for Accessible Laneway and Carriage Homes are difficult to achieve and suggested flexibility could allow for designs that supports aging in place.

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