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Suite Vancouver: “In-law—and Out-law—Apartments”

March 12, 2013

Alan Durning of the Sightline Institute takes a stroll through Kitsilano:

Kitsilano is, like other streetcar-era neighborhoods across the Northwest, among the most sought-after places to live. Prices are high, and residents are protective of their neighborhoods’ quality of life and character.

Yet whatever it may look like, Kitsilano is anything but typical. In fact, Kitsilano — like the rest of Vancouver but unlike most other Cascadian cities — embodies something dramatically different and unusual: the enormous potential both for housing and for sustainability of allowing homeowners to blend small apartments and cottages into and among their houses. In brief, Kitsilano is riddled with what planners call “accessory dwelling units” or “ADUs.”

Kits

.

Alan, after interviewing former city planner Nathan Edelson, provides the best capsule history of secondary suites in Vancouver I’ve ever seen, right up to current conditions:

Let’s review: In the past quarter century, Vancouver, BC, first engaged in a decade of intramural shouting matches over the city’s proliferating basement apartments, then it shrugged and legalized them — almost all of them. Over the same period, it considered and opted against or dispensed with a slew of restrictions that other cities routinely impose: owner occupancy, off-street parking spaces, design mandates, tight restrictions on the number of roommates. Then, it approved an entire second accessory unit on each lot, these ones as laneway houses in the back garden. It even approved adding a second unit in each condo.

Alan’s message:

… the biggest opportunity that Cascadian cities have within their own legal power for advancing sustainability, local prosperity, and affordability is to repeal a raft of land-use regulations that criminalize the bottom end of the private-sector housing market.

Full article here.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Guest permalink
    March 12, 2013 1:11 pm

    Ultimately, hiding secondary suites and laneway homes from view (and preserving the outwardly single family home “character” of a neighbourhood) is all rooted in “keeping up appearances”.

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