City councillors are looking at bylaw changes that deal with garage suites. They’re getting complaints that these suites are getting so big, they might as well be called lane way homes. It’s prompted council to this spring look at a new bylaw that will not only put into writing that a garage suite can be roughly 800 square feet, as long as it takes up no more than fourteen per cent of the lot, but there can also be a second storey that’s roughly 530 square feet.
“We’re talking about, with the 50 foot lots, that you could build over a 1,500 sq ft structure,” complained Bev Zubot of the Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues. “If you compare that to the average house in a mature that tends to be a bit larger than most houses.”
She told reporters that residents are being overwhelmed with what’s being proposed for back alleys. “These structures will be bigger. I think the city is moving a little too fast on this.”
Coun. Andrew Knack said the changes are needed, especially in mature neighborhoods where population isn’t where it once was. Young home owners need the chance at a second income to pay off a hefty mortgage by having the revenue from a garage suite.
“We need to develop a solid strategy that asks, would we need to do alley upgrades? Would we need to provide lighting? What would need to be included in that conversation on larger site coverage units in an alley. For the smaller ones that exist right now we perceive with the changes as is, and we just have a conversation solely around the communication of the permit when it gets issued.”
Council is looking for a lane way housing strategy that could see more of these types of houses built in areas that are served by LRT, Knack said. “I think we need to develop as a city, that lane way housing strategy, and what that might look like, and do we have certain types of housing to look at in transit oriented development communities where you have major transit infrastructure, versus a community where you might not have as readily access to transportation.”
Council’s urban planning committee passed the recommendation. Included in that is the provision that these garage suites will become a permitted use. That means the neighbors won’t have a right to appeal them.