From Ian Robertson: Take Vancouver laneway housing … add a sprinkle of these refurbished Victorian alleys … get something fantastic!

From the Daily MailCommunity transforms Victorian passageway behind homes into oasis of greenery


LAne 1

Rundown: alleys such as this one in Middlesbrough, Teesside, are still scruffy.


Lane 2

Beautiful: The once-dingy lane in Middlesbrough, Teesside, is now a haven of hanging baskets, trellises and trees bearing apples and pears, thanks to a pensioner. Mavis Arnold, 75, has helped turn the lane behind her home into a colourful wonderland.


  1. Wow, inspiring. Pile on the laneway houses, if not row housing, plus maybe a cafe at the corner (note to CoV: thanks for changing that bylaw). Notice all the chairs and tables that invite connection between neighbours — not likely on the comparatively drab street side. There are so many innovative ideas out there to make our city both more dense and more humane. All you have to do is allow them, and have a few caring people that start the ball rolling.

  2. Note that this idea originated with one resident and not the city.

    This reminds me of the gardens at First and Fir on the former CPR r/w that started with one planting bed built on a postage stamp piece of derelict land and mostly funded by one aspiring gardener who had to pull the wisdom teeth of the board members of the adjacent co-op to cover a part of the cost of materials. That one bed, bursting with flowers, brought many thanks and appreciative comments from the condo-dwelling neighbours. Back then the CPR still ran one train a day to Molson’s, and the engineers and brakemen always greeted the gardener, so unlike the more recent PR shenanigans pulled by the CPR further up the tracks deeper into Creme territory where gardens were demolished in front of the cameras as a land negotiating tactic with the city. The lone gardener moved up the hill in the late 90s but, after a few years of neglect, another co-op member resurrected the idea and made it into a showpiece that inspired a small army of gardeners to help from various nearby buildings.

    Chris articulated the potential of lanes, which is vast compared to their standard utilitarian use today. I hope the city can recognize the volunteer effort of residents and follow up any policy initiative on lanes with a small program not unlike Green Streets that allows citizens some flexibility. You can do a lot in even just a 0.6m setback. There was a lane redesign program out there at one time but I understand some of the design techniques failed, such as permeable paving and infiltration channels which quickly plugged up. Cost was also a factor. I suggest the program should be given a new life but without experimentation that is at risk of failure. Go with the tried and true, like solid paving with cobbles and setts or even cheaper unit pavers used in channels, and rated for garbage truck weights. All it takes is imagination and the ability to learn from experience.

    1. I like the example shown here, for instance (put at the end of the alley, there’s always enough room in the verge between the sidewalk and the road)

      … which is to say a little box on top of a big bin, one side recycling, one side garbage, and removes a whole lot of issues with binners, and raccoons, and all the other reasons not to store garbage right beside your house.

      It always amazes me that with land prices as high as they are, that people are happy having more than 1/3 of city streets entirely and totally devoted to shit (of one form or another).

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