Laneway Houses: The Future Of Affordable Urban Living In Toronto?

Written by: Condo Chicks
Posted on: January 10, 2017

Could Laneway Houses Be The Future Of Urban Toronto Living?

It is no secret that the Toronto real estate market has seen a consistency in the increased pricing in the better part of a decade. Rather than the normality for any market to aspire and see an annual increase however, Toronto has seen a shift in housing prices much faster than most other markets. With the average price of a detached home in Toronto increasing by over 32% this past November from the same month a year prior according to statistics from the Toronto Real Estate Board. And because of this, it has certainly shifted the marketed from freehold properties such as detached, and semi-detached homes, and moved buyers towards a higher density housing, such as condominiums towers, and multi-level townhomes.

While many city-dwellers have certainly embraced these condominiums as urban living in a high density area, those looking for a more traditional home, find themselves having to move further and further away from the city in order to find it, and at a price they can afford.

What if there were a way to introduce new freehold housing in the heart of the city, that could accommodate up the 100,000 people, and the solution was quite literally in our backyards? That is of course, if your backyard is along a laneway.

Laneway housing was a concept introduced in Toronto back in 2006. And while it ultimately went nowhere here, it did inspire places such as Vancouver, Ottawa and like-minded cities to introduce policies that embraced it. Granted, the concept a decade ago was not flawless, and contemplated a separate dwelling being legally severed and required new municipal services which resulted in the digging up of these laneways. The new concept idea in laneway housing has different drastically, which one of the largest focuses being a new approach – where the new structures would be treated as a secondary dwelling on the existing property.

What does that mean exactly? Well, that means the garage at the rear of the property could be rebuild by the owner to include a secondary dwelling unit. Potentially serviced through the existing municipal connections, limiting neighbourhood disruption and creating new appropriately sized, ground-orients housing units that could range anywhere between 700-1500 square feet.

Could this type of housing concept represent one of the most innovative solutions to a large housing need in the city of Toronto? Including multi-general households, where the owner can provide accommodations for parents or children, or introduce much need rental housing tock and help generate new income from their property? The answer undoubtedly is yes. A design concept such as this would be creating new freehold housing in major areas, close to transit and existing community amenities, with minimal neighbourhood disruption. But, an innovation such as this would require a community of people willing to work together: citizens, government and industry. Which unfortunately, at this time, may be something difficult to come across.

There is absolutely no quick solution to solve the challenges the GTA faces with the current housing market. But with approximately 300 kilometres of laneways in the city of Toronto, this concept could very well be a good start to consider, or perhaps to utilize as a stepping stone for other ideas in the city of Toronto.

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