Are Vancouver laneway homes an affordable housing alternative?

Watch: The number of permits for laneway homes is way up and expected climb this year in Vancouver. Mayor Gregor Robertson sees it as a way to increase density while keeping neighborhoods intact. But at least one critic says in the rush to gain housing, we’re losing something special. Jennifer Palma has more.

In Vancouver, a city recognized to be one of the most expensive places to live in, laneway homes are gaining traction as an affordable alternative.

According to the City of Vancouver, 2014 has been a recording-setting year for the development of these homes.

357 permits were issued in 2014, following 345 and 350 permits issued in 2013 and 2012. This year also saw 953 new rental housing units approved.

“The success of our laneway housing program is delivering  modest-income rental housing for seniors and young families, and new rental apartments are springing up along transit routes, providing a more affordable option than condos,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson in a statement.

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Robertson sees laneway homes as a great way to increase density while keeping neighbourhoods intact, but not everyone is in favour of this so-called real estate revolution.

Heritage supporter Caroline Adderson of “Vancouver Vanishes” isn’t against laneway homes, but says the construction of the homes decreases affordability if character homes are also being mowed down to make room. She wants to see the original homes intact with the addition of a laneway house.

“If the original house is demolished, it greatly decreases affordability because the new build will be at least twice the price.”

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