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Laneway houses notebook (4)

Feb.12, 2019, Email from Jutta to "Laneway coffee" neighbours

I went to Buildings at city hall yesterday with our surveyor's drawing from when we bought the house in 1984. The very pleasant woman at the desk told me that I needed to bring a plan of what we want to build. I said that I had heard that I could ask about the walkway width before bringing a plan, so I wouldn't have to spend $1500 for nothing. She said I would need a plan to go to the Committee of Adjustment. I said that I heard that this is not a matter that can even be considered by the Committee of Adjustment. Then she said I should talk to Peter (customer service manager Peter Raynes), but he was in a meeting.

When Peter came back he scanned my survey and said he would send it to Fire Prevention Chief Babcock but that it was unlikely that Fire would give us permission. [Note that when I went to see that fire chief before, he said I should go to Buildings because they have the final authority] :) There was an architect, also at the counter, for a laneway house client who has about twice the width of our walkway. But Peter Raynes said the 1 meter walkway has to be on the client's own property, and the client is about 5 cm short.

I believe all the walkways on this street are shared, and Peter said that shared walkway agreements are unreliable and Fire doesn't like them. As far as I can see, that means no house on this part of Havelock can get a permit except the one on the very end.

Another Buildings staff who overheard us chatting earlier while we were waiting for Peter Raynes said that for sure everyone would have to pay the development fee.

I sent all the above info to Ana Bailao because she requested me to do that, when she heard I was going. She has not responded, but Tony from Lanescape sent this to Ana and to me:

The access route can extend onto a neighbouring property. While it is not ideal, this is still an acceptable solution so long as there is an easement or right-of-way in place. This is noted in the city’s final report.

While Doug mentioned 0.9m width is the minimum they would accept for the walkway, we feel as though there’s justification for the .86m width you have, based on the principles of the building code. Ultimately this is at the fire department’s discretion.

My understanding is that you are subject to development charges, but laneway suite DC’s are part of the development charge deferral program. They’d be a requirement listed in zoning review and permit, but ultimately are waived.

We’ll wait to hear back from Doug Babcock. You shouldn’t need proposed plans for him to tell us whether or not the walkway is wide enough. The building itself is irrelevant so long as you have a survey they can pull dimensions from.

Unsurprisingly, there seem to be some wrinkles in the bylaw regs that need to be ironed out. I think a review is due at the end of one year, so that might be a good deadline for raising community concerns. I'll get back to you when I get word back from Buildings/Fire and also from that architect (to see if they accepted his client). He said he's David (Ted) Footman. I looked him up later -- he owned Ted's Wrecking Yard. Nice guy. He told me that his urban planning prof told him years ago that he'd have to change his name to Meterman. But he didn't.

Feb.13, 2019, from Brandon in Councillor Bailao's office:

Thanks for sharing Jutta. With the storm, things are really backed up in the office. Please give us a couple days to respond.

Feb.22, 2019 Q and A, Jutta to Tony

Q: Did I read your link right, the zoning change bylaw is coming up for consideration sometime in 2019?

A: The motion was passed to review expanding the policy boundary. This is what George Pantazis was referring to in our meeting with him.

What was passed: Requested the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning, in consultation with appropriate staff, to undertake a review and consultation on expanding the current policy and zoning permissions for laneway suites and to report back in 2019 with any recommended changes to laneway suite regulations. (The Feb.14 Laneway Housing item is linked here.)

Q: Can you remind me when the review of the current bylaw is coming up?

A: Review is at 100 permits issued or 2 year mark, whichever is sooner.

Q: So August 2020 unless they issue 100 permits before then.

Q: What's the story on sprinklers? A friend says that what works for 38-story towers ought to be accepted for laneway houses as well -- thoughts?

A: Sprinklers may delay the spread of fire, but wouldn’t do much for paramedics or other personnel to access the suite in the event of emergency. Sprinklers may be an option if you were slightly longer than the 45m requirement, but realistically we don’t see it as an alternative to providing appropriate width for personnel and gear.

Feb.22, 2019, from Tony Cunha

You’re correct in that the city will also be reviewing any recommended changes to laneway suite regulations, but I can’t speculate on what this will be. My suspicion is that they may build the access requirements into the actual by-law to avoid any confusion, but really can’t say what will happen. I can confidently say that they are expanding the boundary and application to all residential zoning designations however.

Fire and EMS requirements for larger buildings are all dictated by the building code. The difference in it’s application to laneway suites is that access throughout buildings (including corridors, hallways etc) is dictated by a minimum width. In no case would there ever be an emergency access route incapable of allowing personnel and gear to pass.

Information: The Planning and Housing Committee Meeting link is here.

Members: Ana Bailao (chair), Paula Fletcher (Vice-chair), Brad Bradford, Gord Perks, Jaye Robinson and Kristyn Wong-Tam.


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