Letters

Laneway houses good solution for New West

Laneway homes are part of the solution to creating livable and logical zoning for New Westminster. These single family/mini rental homes are the perfect antidote to the existing knock down / build-up big box homes we keep seeing in the city. We have fooled ourselves into thinking that a basement suite or 50 year old three story walk up is the rental answer. It is the opposite, it is archaic social herding, and is no solution to developing a quality of life in this city.

Laneway homes are not a developer-driven commodity; instead they are real homes built by home owners. The mini-rental homes induce community and a higher quality of life and living. Laneway homes’ holistic existence can be seen in the contrasting examples in Metro Vancouver.

Maple Ridge was the first city to allow laneway homes (2008), but their homeowner demographics have produced less than 25 units in total.

Maple Ridge’s single family housing stock is not like New Westminster; theirs is built on new subdivisions. These communities are created by developers to meet the needs of buyers looking for the suburbs dream home.

Vancouver, which has similar housing to New West, was the second city to allow laneways (2008), and they now have over 1,000 units. The largest builder of laneway homes in Vancouver reported 50 per cent of the laneways built were for family use, and the balance are for land value upgrades and rental income.

The City of North Vancouver reported 60 to 80 per cent of their laneways were family use.

Family use is as grass-roots community as you can get. It was why we moved to New West, to allow my in-laws to stop renting and live in a home, in the community they loved. However, their basement living in hindsight was an undignified existence, and a poor quality of life. My father in-law passed away in our basement in 2007 and my mother whom we could not create room for fast enough passed away in my brother’s basement in 2010. Later in 2010, my mother-in-law moved out of our home.

If laneway living is not the answer, someone please tell me what is. Single family living is providing generational living and that is community.

New West is a walkable city perfect for every age. If I had a do-over it would be to provide dignified living for extended family but at the time city officials told us, if you don’t like it move. For our family it is too late, but it doesn’t have to be for others in the city. Ensure dignified living, and demand change.

Peter Tjernagel

New Westminster

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