Balcony enclosure gardening

Coquitlam council approves OCP and Zoning Amendments to allow retractable balcony glass systems

06/01/2022

Lumon Canada is pleased to announce that on May 30, 2022, the City of Coquitlam, one of the fastest growing regions in Metropolitan Vancouver, approved amendments to its Official Community Plan and Zoning Bylaws to permit the installation of retractable glass panel systems in new multi-family developments without any reduction in the Floor Space Ratio (FSR) calculations.

Council also approved accompanying City-wide Development Permit Area (DPA) Guidelines to assist in the design of buildings in which balcony glass panels are to be installed.

Coquitlam is the second Metro Vancouver municipality to make changes to its zoning bylaws to allow retractable glass panels on balconies without FSR reductions. Last year, the City of North Vancouver also approved bylaw changes. As a growing city hub, the building trend in Coquitlam is up. Balcony spaces are often left unused or may not even be considered of significant importance when it comes to living spaces. The reality, however, is that an enclosed balcony space can significantly increase the value of apartments and building as a whole, giving more room for residents to enjoy.

Numerous other municipalities allow the installation of glass panel systems without FSR reductions, but they have not yet amended bylaws. Instead, staff and Council are guided by internal policies.

Lumon, a Finnish company, has developed a frameless retractable balcony glass panel system that provides weather protection when needed, without fully enclosing a balcony. It is used in more than 20 countries worldwide, including Canada, where it has set up a manufacturing plant for the North American market.

Its system protects balconies from rain, wind, noise, and pollutants. As a result, it allows balconies that are too often not used in bad weather to be used year-round. In addition, the panels, although not sealed, can reduce energy costs by approximately 15% depending on the location.

“Our company is delighted that Coquitlam city councillors recognized the livability benefits of glass panel systems,” said Olli Vanska, CEO of Lumon Canada, adding that glass panels make balconies so much livelier. “You just have to walk by buildings where our panel system has been installed to see how many more people are sitting outside, even in poor weather.”

“The exclusion from FSR calculations is important for developers,” said Michael Geller a registered planner and retired architect who is a consultant to Lumon Canada. “It allows balconies to become more usable spaces, without reducing the area of the interior space.”

Geller noted that products like Lumon’s retractable panels were not invented when most zoning bylaws were first drafted. When asked why it has taken so long for bylaws to be amended, he pointed out how long it took before they started to put wheels on luggage.

Currently, many municipalities across Canada allow the installation of balcony glass without reductions in the interior area. Locally, the City and Township of Langley, Abbotsford, Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Kelowna, and Victoria also allow installations.

Lumon will soon be holding discussions with officials and politicians from other Metro Vancouver municipalities to explore how their municipal regulations can be modified like those in Coquitlam so that more residents can enjoy year-round use of their balconies.

Lumon is the ultimate choice for sustainable cities, with the retractable glazing system acting as a heating or cooling buffer, saving energy costs by an average of 6%. This study has been backed by extensive research at Tampere University in Finland. In Finland, in fact, 75% of balconies are enclosed in retractable glass. It is a self-explanatory decision for builders, contractors, architects, and other professionals. With the decision from Coquitlam City, it seems that the premise for decision-making amongst professionals throughout Canada will soon be the same.

Lumon’s mission is better homes, better life, and a better world – and this is a step in the right direction.

For more information contact:

Olli Vanska, CEO, Lumon Canada Inc.
Phone: 705 715-7965
Email: [email protected]

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