The Many Benefits of Laneway Homes
There is no denying the inevitable. Toronto is growing. Just take a drive north on any of the major traffic routes for proof. What was once farm land is now awash in Monopoly shaped homes, strip malls, and shopping centres. We crave space, a home and a yard and will sacrifice distance and travel time to get it. But what we didn’t count on was the toll that the bedroom communities have on our lives. Besides the stresses that long commutes add to people’s lives, loss of arable land is significant, as is traffic congestion, pollution, growing infrastructure issues and a host of other issues.
Combating sprawl means increasing density in urban cores. It means building higher and smarter and finding better ways to use space in general. Cities like Toronto need to decide TODAY how the city needs to operate in 50 years. For their part, urban dwellers have to be more accommodating. While it is important to understand the NIMBY concerns, the city must also balance decisions based on the greater good. We need to use available space more efficiently.
One idea currently at work is the redevelopment of garages into residential units. Since July 2009, Vancouver has allowed the construction of Laneway homes in many of their residential neighbourhoods. Whether they are contemporary or traditional designs, they are typically located in the garage area of the lot and they must include one parking space and be limited to rental or family use. The intended goal of the laneway house was simply to respond to the needs of the communities by providing diverse rental housing. Laneway homes like the one pictured below can not only provide income to the homeowner but a transitional opportunity for a young family member or a home for an older parent.