West Vancouver Coach Houses Expand Housing Choices

mvconnectHover2In West Vancouver coach houses are now an option, making the district the 10th municipality in Metro Vancouver to use this form of detached secondary suites as a way to grow housing stock. See how this housing style helps young families and seniors, and makes it possible to reduce construction waste at the same time.

The District of West Vancouver is currently accepting development permit applications for detached secondary suites, also known as coach houses

“In simplest terms think of a coach house as a small house, sharing a lot with a larger principal home,” says Stephen Mikicich Manager of Community Planning for the District of West Vancouver.

Working with the public was a key part of approving the new bylaw.

“During community dialogue in neighbourhood character and housing, West Vancouver residents engaged in a very in-depth discussion around future housing need, what they valued about their neighbourhoods and the types of new housing that could be introduced in a sensitive way,” explains Mikicich. “And through all those discussions, coach houses came out on top.”

Other municipalities in Metro Vancouver have already embraced coach houses for their benefits. Mikicich points out they offer an unobtrusive means of increasing density in single-family home neighbourhoods.

“A lot of communities look to these as a very less impactful form of densification or almost invisible density, because, for the most part, these are located in a backyard where you might otherwise locate a detached garage.”

This new type of housing also allows for a greater variety of living options within the district. West Vancouver city councillor Trish Panz believes coach houses offer an answer to an important challenge that West Vancouver must tackle.

“How can we accommodate young families in our community, young adults, and our growing senior population. And that’s a conversation around aging in place. And aging in place is successful when you can stretch housing choices in your community.”

Importantly, building coach houses also produces less waste than replacing existing housing. Freda Pagani, a West Vancouver resident and committee member of the Dialogue on Neighbourhood Character & Housing offers this observation.

“If you’re going to reduce the amount of construction waste going to landfill by 80% which is what’s required to meet the sustainable region’s targets for waste reduction, then clearly, something has to happen in terms of the way buildings are demolished.”

The building of coach houses helps with this goal, often producing less waste than replacing existing housing.

“Sustainability is often framed in terms of a technological advance or something new that we have to do,” says Pagani. “I feel that often sustainability is about conserving existing things that we value, and building new things that people are going to value into the future.”

More info: West Vancouver Coach Houses

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