The first proposals for laneway housing under the new West End plan are coming forward. And the first objections.
From West End Neighbours:
… ask yourself, is this what you expected when the City said “laneway housing” was coming to the West End?
Here’s the site:
A low-rise rental building is being proposed for a parking lot – no demolition or evictions required – after the completion of a community planning process that took more than a year of public input. And yet the list of complaints is longer than ever. Such as this:
It appears these projects can be approved without a Public Hearing, as a result of adoption of the West End Community Plan.
In other words, it is not a spot rezoning that requires a public hearing. Ironically, it was complaints about spot rezonings that led to the West End planning process in the first place. ( As planners learn very early in their careers: No matter what option you propose, it will be the wrong one.)
Nonetheless, lane infill is the most innovative and potentially the most transformative initiative in the new West End plan – something I was reminded of when I took a shortcut down a lane between Burnaby and Harwood Streets, east of Bidwell:
Here is what we might lose if these sites were replaced with housing (though under the current bylaw, not all are eligible.)
Note the shear amount of empty asphalt – because one of the biggest complaints about this kind of change will be the loss of existing parking.
If that argument prevails in the face of (a) declining car use, and other options such as car-sharing, (b) increasing demand for rental housing, (c) inability to develop elsewhere without demolition or displacement of existing tenants, then … well, what? In that case we are not a serious people, our expectations are disconnected from reality, and our demands are petulant.