Innovative laneways from Vancouver

Like Oak Bay, the City of Vancouver is blessed with a great deal of laneways. Vancouver has already made the great leap to allow laneway housing, as I talked about early this month, but now they are looking at the laneway itself, specifically how to make it more environmentally friendly.

Called the “Country Lane” Treatment or Environmental Residential Lane, Vancouver has specifically been experimenting with three different types of surfaces.

The first lane uses a mix of concrete paving stones, which allow water to flow between them, plastic mats and concrete driving strips. For those not in Vancouver, the laneway can be seen in the following satellite photo:

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The second lane uses plastics mats as well, but uses gravel to fill them instead of concrete. Like the previous lane, it has been helpfully been photographed and is on Google:

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The third lane does away with concrete entirely, using plastic mats filled with either plants or gravel. You can take a peak at it from the air via Google:

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As the website points out, these lanes, which are designed to reduce dust, keep water out of the sewers and storm sewers, and do a host of other nice things, have won awards. Which brings us down to the sticky part, the paying for these lanes. There are few details on the Vancouver website, but it looks like cost sharing between the city and the local residents via a tax improvement district. This is not unique to Vancouver. Lots of cities do it, including Saanich with their Local Area Services plan.

Most of the laneways in Oak Bay are paved with asphalt and those that aren’t are just straight gravel or dirt. The asphalt in many of these lanes is starting to fall apart and will likely need replacing. Given the major costs that Oak Bay faces with sewers and storm sewers over the next few years, ideas such as these that keep water out of those pipes are much needed.