Hamilton

Can laneway homes be a housing solution? Hamilton takes stock

There are about 70 laneway homes in Hamilton, and new report going to the Public Works committee Tuesday explores whether it makes sense to encourage more.

Some of Hamilton's 818 laneways might be a source of affordable housing

One of only 70 laneway homes in Hamilton along Wheeler Lane is utilizing a section of the city's almost 100-kilometres of unused laneways, (City of Hamilton)

There are about 70 laneway homes in Hamilton, and new report going to the Public Works committee Tuesday explores whether it makes sense to encourage more as a way to increase affordable and sustainable housing options. 

There are currently 818 laneways in Hamilton that stretch over 100-kilometres.

Laneways...have the potential to fulfil future needs as growth becomes more focused within existing established neighbourhoods.- Public Works report

But there are only around 70 known laneway homes in existence. These homes were originally built as outbuildings or carriage houses, but have since been adapted to accommodate second residences. 

Around 82 per cent of the laneways are city-owned and are primarily located in the lower city between Burlington Street, Parkdale Avenue, the Niagara Escarpment and Dundurn Street. 

But the report says there is potential for more laneway homes — which they describe as a small, detached home located at the centre of the block and fronting a laneway — in Hamilton because over 15,000 homes are located on laneways and the majority are residential units.

Ward 3 has the most laneways in the city. 

According to the report, increasing the number of laneway homes in the city would help to offer more affordable housing options while helping it keep up with its growing population and cutting costs of construction, because these types of homes are typically less expensive to build. 

"Laneways continue to serve many functions and have the potential to fulfil future needs as growth becomes more focused within existing established neighbourhoods," says the report.

The report cautions there are practical, policy and legal issues to overcome. Right now, city zoning does not actually permit laneway housing, but higher level polices that push intensification are supportive of the idea. 

Laneways also often serve as local transportation networks for neighbourhoods.

"Beyond housing, laneways may offer the opportunity for multi-modal transportation options – bike and walking trails. More creative uses, such as space for community needs are also possible," it says.

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