Strategically planning for parking: An inquiry into parking requirements for laneway houses in Vancouver

Author/s: Alex Thumm

Creation date: 2018

Senior supervisor: Anthony Perl

Keywords: residential parking policy, urban planning, strategic planning, laneway housing, infill housing, policy alignment

Geographic focus: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Research question/s: How do parking demand, parking behaviour, and the City of Vancouver’s strategic di


Building-based parking requirements are a common policy tool used by municipal governments to create parking for new residential development and to mitigate the impacts of development to existing parking infrastructure. However, the consensus amongst scholars is that this approach is inefficient, unjust and unnecessarily harmful in comparison to alternatives. With municipalities continuing to require parking for nearly every dwelling unit despite widespread parking vacancies and an often-declining automobile mode-share trend, it is pertinent to ask how and why parking requirements are created and what effects they have. While scholars have examined the deficiencies in zoning and parking policies, none have rigorously engaged with parking regulations for infill housing. This study is a contribution to filling that gap in the literature.


Thumm used a mixed-methods approach, including data obtained through secondary sources, interviews, and an original survey of laneway house residents. Thumm concluded that parking requirements can present both an opportunity and a barrier to creating infill housing, and that due to this, Vancouver’s laneway parking requirement can ultimately be understood as a political compromise. Thumm’s study also upheld the academic consensus against parking requirements. He noted that while the City of Vancouver’s strategic parking plans largely align with the academic literature, those plans do not necessarily translate into regulatory policy. As such, Thumm recommends more data, public dialogue, and transparency be used in the translation of strategic policy into regulatory policy.