Nelson’s new regulations about laneway housing are mostly about parking and building size. Photo: Small Housing BC

Nelson’s new regulations about laneway housing are mostly about parking and building size. Photo: Small Housing BC

Nelson council passes laneway house zoning changes

Council hopes more laneway dwellings will encourage affordable housing

Nelson City Council seemed a bit lonely on June 11 at its scheduled public hearing on zoning changes that will allow for more laneway housing. That’s because nobody from the public showed up to be heard.

Mayor Deb Kozak said laneway houses will only be desirable or possible for a limited number of homeowners, hence the low turnout. She also thinks those who are interested already understand and accept the changes being proposed.

“Most of these items have been discussed and aired for some time now,” she told the Star.

But the public hearing was required because it involves changes to Nelson’s zoning bylaw. After the hearing, council voted in favour final adoption of the changes.

Some of those changes involve parking.

If a property contains a house, a secondary suite, and a laneway house, a total of three parking spaces will be required. This can be relaxed to two spaces on application to the city if there is sufficient nearby street parking or if the on-street parking within 100 metres is metered or requires a permit.

Laneway houses are typically built in the back yard of an already existing house, opening onto the back lane. They use the main house’s water and sewer hookups.

Other changes:

• Minimum gross floor area for a laneway house is changed from 323 square feet to 280 square feet.

• Maximum gross floor area goes up from 699 square feet to 958.

• Laneway houses may no longer be used as short term rentals.

• Laneway dwellings must have an exterior light at every entrance.

• Entrance must be within 45 m of the street, and the path to the entrance must be one metre wide and kept clear of snow.

• In Zone R1 (low density residential), three units are permitted on lots 5,974 square feet or larger, up from two in the previous bylaw. This can be house, suite, and laneway house, or duplex plus one suite or laneway house.

• In Zones R1, R3 (downtown residential) and other specialized zones an additional five per cent lot coverage is allowed if the laneway house does not exceed 4.5 m in height.

The city will offer homeowners a number of pre-approved home designs, in collaboration with Small Housing BC, a Vancouver non-profit.

Council hopes laneway houses will encourage more affordable housing in Nelson.

“Laneway housing is not a full solution to the affordable housing problem,” city planner Alex Thumm told the Star in March, “but as part of a ‘missing middle’ housing choice, it can increase housing diversity in the city and be a solution for those who are over-housed, under-housed, or seeking housing within city limits.”

Related stories in the Nelson Star:

• Nelson plans public meeting to explore laneway housing (Jan. 2018)

• Nelson holds open house on laneway housing (Jan. 2018)

• Nelson laneway house survey results revealed (March 2018)

Laneway houses