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Laneway Housing

Hipster Duck

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I kind of understand why cops use Crown Vics. The frame construction probably allows you to mount curbs at relatively high speeds without having to fix the chassis every time. Besides, Ford has built these police interceptors for years for practically every force on the continent so it's probably much cheaper and easier than asking another manufacturer to build a supcompact car to spec.

Now, as for fire trucks, that's a whole different kettle of fish. However, European fire departments do have one thing in their favour: European houses aren't wood-framed tinderboxes. We absolutely should allow laneway housing, but on more sober second thought, I think that they should be built to a higher fire safety code than our regular houses.
 

jimbobs

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I worked on a laneway housing project a while back that didn't get off the drawing board.
My commiserations! I bet that was a frustrating project to work on - all the initial interest and excitement soon quashed by City bureaucracy.

There seemed to be a few killer issues that you'd need to overcome.
Address - Most properties have access onto a public street, not a public lane. The City would have to convert the laneway into a street (which may require widening). [/QUOTE]

Red herring on somebody's part but easily dealt with throughout the civilized world: box number or mail pickup.

Fire – Fire access is a practical and approval issue. If a fire truck can’t get near a house can it safely be dealt with in an emergency?
How does the rest of the world deal with this? Tell me that fires don't occur in mountainous villages with narrow streets built before fire trucks were ever dreamt of.

Garbage – Big issue. The City has the responsibility to pick-up garbage from residential properties, but they don’t want their trucks driving down narrow laneways.
Again - only a big issue because the City makes it so. Other arrangements exist in other cities and they all seem to work.

Pedestrians – Weird issue. How do people walk to their house? Down a laneway shared with cars or do you need a dedicated pedestrian access. I say they can walk down a lane shared with cars, but others may disagree.
Not an issue at all. I have rear access to my house from a laneway and use it all the time. I have never had an issue with cars that was any worse than on the street side of my property.
I personally came to the conclusion that if the City wants this type of project they need to figure out how to address these issues because the shear cost of getting a laneway project approved will ruin it financially.
So what typically will happen here is that enough people will request this and City politicians will notice. They will ask for a staff report. Staff will hire highly paid consultants who will conduct public meetings with nice charts and drawings and tell us all what we thought in the first place. This will eventually come back to Council and all the people who were originally interested will have figured out something else. The City is so slow and unexciting and incapable of thinking outside the box. Personally, I think that because City staff have been beaten up so often by stupid councillors and have become so politicized they refuse to make any decisions.
 
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lopix

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I was at the Riverdale Zoo yesterday and noodled around the area a bit afterwards. Seems to be a lot of houses built behind others there. The Croft Lofts are one of the more famous examples I can think of. There is another one on Brockton Ave, just off Brock south of Dundas. Heck, I have seen some recent severance results near Sherwood Park.

I used to live in Victoria and there were areas where every driveway had 5 numbers on it. Houses just stacked behind each other, totally normal. And half of the residential streets there would barely qualify as streets at all. Would not want to be a fireman and have to navigate that maze.
 

azureray

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Dear UT friends,

I have a dream...that is one day, Toronto city will be as open and forward thinking as Vancouver, Victoria, Tokyo, London, Seoul, New York......to allow modern sustainable architecture in Toronto's downtown laneways.

I personally love the back alleyways of hidden downtown Toronto. I firmly believe it is a great playground for inspirations and sustainable eco-living without drastically impact the density of a neighborhood, as oppose to condos.

But City Planners try as much as they can to KILL all things laneway...leaving laneway inspirations to dry and die, and leave Toronto back alleys a breeding ground for crime and sorrow.

Please give your views here regarding laneway architecture and laneway housing...how we can change the current situation and what's the best way of campaign to change the city's view on laneway architecture?

Thx~!
 

kettal

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But City Planners try as much as they can to KILL all things laneway...leaving laneway inspirations to dry and die, and leave Toronto back alleys a breeding ground for crime and sorrow.
Can you go into more specific instances of this please?

The only rational reason preventing laneway development is emergency vehicle access.

I'm seeing a trend towards new houses being built in laneways now days, even here in Toronto.
 

azureray

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Can you go into more specific instances of this please?

The only rational reason preventing laneway development is emergency vehicle access.

I'm seeing a trend towards new houses being built in laneways now days, even here in Toronto.
It's more about zoning, city just would not be willing to allow laneway housing even though the lot I own is a seperate lot with wide lane access. Please see attached CAD massing model here. The blue building is the laneway lot that has been rejected for any residential development. The lot size is 22 ft by 35 ft.


And lane is about 14 ft at its narrowest, leading to main street.

 
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Tuscani01

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I just finished a project for Ward 20 that involved mapping and cataloging the ward's lanes. Its the first step in finding new uses for laneways in the ward. Thats all I can say for now, but I think its safe to say... expect some renewed interest in laneways in the near future.

There are several obstacles to overcome:
1) servicing
2) naming lanes
3) privacy issues
 

azureray

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I just finished a project for Ward 20 that involved mapping and cataloging the ward's lanes. Its the first step in finding new uses for laneways in the ward. Thats all I can say for now, but I think its safe to say... expect some renewed interest in laneways in the near future.

There are several obstacles to overcome:
1) servicing
2) naming lanes
3) privacy issues
That's fantastic!! Thanks for this info...can you let me know where exactly is Ward 20?
 

Archivist

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Tuscani, that is pretty exciting news. It would be nice to see the city move on laneways. The whole "emergency vehicles" argument has always made me crazy, as if the city should be designed first and foremost for ambulances and fire trucks. It's not like you can completely ignore those factors, but they ought not be the end of discussions. Don't these vehicles have to get into lanes anyways, if there is a fire or other emergency at the rear of a house?
 

azureray

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Any chance we could get a preview of your project?
i have a rough concept and a website...the concept is a half an hour google sketch-up.

http://laneloft.com/

I am looking for an architect who can take the job and who is also passionate about laneway infills...I will be sending out an RFP soon, or maybe working with Azure or Dwell on a competition...

Perfect location and good lot size, should be a good and fun project for the right architect.
 

azureray

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I just finished a project for Ward 20 that involved mapping and cataloging the ward's lanes. Its the first step in finding new uses for laneways in the ward. Thats all I can say for now, but I think its safe to say... expect some renewed interest in laneways in the near future.

There are several obstacles to overcome:
1) servicing
2) naming lanes
3) privacy issues
Ward 20 is Trinity - Spadina... exactly where my ward is...
 

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