Agenda Index City of Vancouver



Vancouver City Council


General Manager of Engineering Services


Country Lanes Demonstration Project




On May 14th 2002, Council authorized Local Improvement Staff to pursue other more sustainable street and lane improvement projects, as demonstration projects, acknowledging that the City's standard portion of funding may initially be increased.

Policies governing the Local Improvement process are set out in the Vancouver Charter and Local Improvements Procedure by-law.


The purpose of this report is to obtain Council approval for the design, construction, and funding of the Country Lane demonstration project.


Traditionally, lane construction has consisted of full width asphalt paving. Recently Engineering have completed some lanes with partial width paving. As a new more appealing initiative, Engineering has begun to develop a Country Lane design that meets sustainability principles and looks for the opportunity to implement this design as a pilot project. Such a pilot project would provide an opportunity to monitor the performance of this new design in order that its environmental, financial, and social impacts can be monitored.


Rebuilding, maintaining, and improving the City of Vancouver's infrastructure in a sustainable way through innovative design and implementation of public works is a tangible demonstration that the City is working to ensure that Vancouver remains one of the world's most livable cities.

In accordance with the growing emphasis on sustainability principles endorsed by the City of Vancouver, Engineering has been investigating alternatives to traditional lane and street designs. The Country Lane concept uses two narrow bands of hard surface down the wheel paths for the length of the lane. The area between and beside these bands will have a structural component able to support vehicles, but still be able to be top-soiled and planted with grass. Pictures of how conceptually the finished Country Lanes would look are given in Appendix "A". This innovative design would contribute to a more attractive, greener, rural aesthetic, while reducing environmental impacts and discharges to the City's storm sewer system.

As with any new design, the short and long term performance of the Country Lane design will need to be monitored. The durability of both the hard and soft surfaces over time under the untested conditions will be important to the success of the design. The performance of the drainage system depends to a large degree on the existing soil conditions and the potential for ponding exists during storm events. This pilot project will provide an opportunity to assess these issues and allow Engineering to refine and improve upon the functionality of the design.

Implementation of the "Country Lanes" will demonstrate the functional viability and environmental benefits of this type of design. Accordingly, Engineering recommends constructing demonstration Country Lanes in various locations. The primary lanes under consideration are listed below. In addition, there may be a requirement to experiment with small aspects of the Country Lane design in other lane locations.

1. Lane south of 27th Avenue, 700 block;
2. Lane east of Maple, 5th Avenue to 6th Avenue;
3. Lane south of Yale, Slocan to Kaslo.

Maps of these locations are displayed in Appendix "B". The proposed locations were chosen because they have strong community support for this initiative and would support, maintain, and promote this innovative alternative to asphalt lane paving.

1. The lane south of 27th Avenue is within the Mountain View Neighbourhood located in the Kensington-Cedar Cottage area. The Mountain View Neighbourhood Group are community minded residents working on ways to unite their neighbourhood and make it a place to be proud of. The community is active in many initiatives including crime watch/block watch, the Keep Vancouver Spectacular Program, the Fraser Street Clean Up, and a mural project in co-operation with residents. In 2001, CBC radio honoured this neighbourhood in their Most Improved Neighbourhood Contest. The Mountain View Neighbourhood Group represented by Sharole Tylor have been exploring an alternative lane treatment with the Streets Design Engineer, and residents are committed to not only providing landscaping and labour for a green lane project, but are also dedicated to the lane's future maintenance.

2. The lane east of Maple between 5th and 6th Avenue connects to the City Farmer property, which demonstrates and promotes other sustainable technologies in partnership with the City of Vancouver. The Country Lane concept fits into their policy of promoting urban agriculture and sustainability, and conservation of resources. City Farmer will be strong ambassadors and are dedicated to the long term success and maintenance of their lane.

3. The lane south of Yale has already shown its interest through the local improvement process and at a public meeting in May 2002. Furthermore, Mr. George Rammell addressed Council on June 11, 2002 and confirmed this community's support for the design, construction, and long term maintenance of a country lane in their neighbourhood.

The addition of Country Lanes will enhance these neighbourhoods and provide an opportunity for the environmental, social, and financial benefits of this innovative design to be assessed. The Country Lane concept would be used as a model for future local improvements.


Environmental Implications
The country lane design is an innovative concept that meets sustainable principles. This design will allow for rain water to percolate over vegetation and through the ground. By allowing for this natural absorption, discharges to the storm sewer system will be reduced, and natural drainage and increased vegetation will filter storm water and may improve air quality.

Financial Implications
Usually funding and approval for the rehabilitation of residential lanes falls under the Local Improvement process. Traditional full width paving of the lanes listed in Appendix "B" would cost about $100,000. Under the Local Improvement process, property owners would be required to pay approximately $65,000 of the paving costs with the City responsible for the remaining $35,000. On May 14th 2002, Council authorized Engineering to pursue more sustainable street and lane improvement projects, acknowledging that the City's standard portion of funding may initially be increased. The estimated cost for construction of Country Lanes in the locations given in Appendix "B" is $150,000, to be provided entirely from the City's Streets Basic Capital Unapropriated Account Group SCA5C-UNAP (Residential Streets Unappropriated). In the future, as the design and construction of these projects become more refined and routine, Engineering expects that the costs would be reduced and that they would be similar to the current lane improvement costs.

Social Implications
As the intent of this design is to provide a greener and more natural appearance, the additional vegetation may require increased maintenance from property owners to keep the lane aesthetically pleasing. Furthermore, the long term ability of the grass to survive under these conditions is untested and additional maintenance by the City may be required.


Recognizing the environmental benefits of this design, Engineering recommends that Council approve the design, construction, and funding of Country Lanes as a demonstration project. This project will provide an opportunity to demonstrate the functional viability and environmental benefits of this type of design. The success of these Country Lane project may lead to its implementation in future local improvement projects.

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Country Lane Conceptual Examples


1. Lane south of 27th Avenue, 700 block

2. Lane east of Maple, 5th Avenue to 6th Avenue

3. Lane south of Yale, Slocan to Kaslo

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