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Burnaby residents send emphatic message that they want laneway houses: survey

New City of Burnaby survey sets record with response.
The City of Burnaby wants to build laneway houses. (via supplied)

Burnaby residents are very interested in living in and building laneway homes, according to a new city survey.

Almost 60% of survey respondents said they would be interested in living in a laneway home, and almost 70% said they had an interest in building a laneway home.

Laneway homes, which are smaller homes built in the backyard of a main house, are not currently permitted in Burnaby, though the survey is part of the city's plan to begin allowing their construction.

Those hoping to build a laneway mostly reasoned they wanted to use it for family, or to rent it to others.

The survey is part of the new Burnaby’s Housing Choices program, which intends to introduce housing options to the city in between single-family homes and apartments and condos. 

With 2,550 survey responses, the city reported it was the highest number of responses received from any city survey.

Laneways are particularly attractive to renters and youth, with 79% of renters, 92% of 18 to 24-year-olds and 72% of 25 to 34-year-olds expressing interest in living in a laneway.

Laneway homes with two or three or more bedrooms also garnered significant support: 50% of respondents said two bedrooms should be permitted, while an additional 31% supported three or more bedrooms.

Two-storey laneways were the most popular option (40%), followed by two-and-a-half storeys (33%).

This is despite some Burnaby residents’ disapproval of two-storey laneways.

The report said support for multiple-storey laneway homes was higher among younger respondents and decreased as respondents got older.

Over two-thirds of respondents supported reducing off-street parking requirements for properties with a laneway.

Suites in semi-detached homes received slightly less positive feedback, with 46% of respondents expressing interest in living in a suite in a semi-detached home and 51% expressing interest in building such a suite.

Permitting other types of housing choices, such as single-family homes with two suites and fourplexes on two-family properties, saw strong support.

Most survey respondents were homeowners (83%), higher than the 68% proportion of homeowners in Burnaby.

Over 80% of survey respondents supported developing a program to share pre-approved designs for new housing types, intended to speed up the approval process and reduce development costs. City staff have begun studying this possibility.

The city plans to host four open design workshops in June 2022, for the public to discuss the Housing Choices program and to learn about regulations for laneway homes and suites in semi-detached homes.

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