The Calgary Laneway Challenge

By 2020, the City of Calgary aims to have half the increase in its population accommodated inside existing neighbourhoods. That means those neighbourhoods have to become much more dense. The question is how, or if, that can be done while maintaining some of the flavour of the city we know and love now.

One proposed way to do that is to allow more laneway homes — essentially, houses that take the place of, or are built on top of, or alongside alleyway garages. It’s a housing form that has been adopted in cities including Vancouver to great success, increasing the affordability of inner-city homes and increasing density at the same time as maintaining existing homes.

While laneway houses won’t solve all the city’s growth needs, Avenue thought they certainly sounded worthy of exploration and the City seems to agree — currently, there is a laneway housing pilot project taking place in Kensington. “Laneway housing is invisible density,” says Ward 7 councillor Druh Farrell, a proponent of the housing form. “It adds housing without changing the character of the city. And it’s one way to make a city more resilient by offering flexibility.”

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