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Toronto garden suites bylaw receives green light

July 26, 2022

Michelle McNally - livabl.com

Toronto homeowners will now be able to build garden suites on their property after an appeal of the bylaw was dismissed by the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) this month.

The City of Toronto announced this week that its garden suites bylaw is now “in full force,” after the OLT disbanded the appeal on July 4th.

“This is good news and it will help get some more housing built. Garden suites are often a way to create homes for family members – parents, grandparents or adult children – or can be used as rental housing units,” said Mayor John Tory in a press release.

“The Garden Suites regulations approved earlier this year represent a ‘Made In Toronto’ solution with sensible regulations to protect neighbours, trees/greenspace and gentle density. Allowing garden suites across Toronto is a key step forward in expanding housing choice within the City’s neighbourhoods and creating a more inclusive and resilient city for current and future residents,” he added.

On February 2nd, Toronto City Council adopted the Garden Suites Bylaw and Official Plan Amendment to permit the construction of garden suites in most residential zones in the city. A garden suite is a type of small housing unit that is typically constructed in the backyard of an existing home but separate from the main house on the lot.

As Toronto is facing high demand for a variety of housing types across the affordability spectrum, garden suites are regarded as “one solution to increase housing choice and access for current and future Toronto residents,” according to the City.

Toronto’s garden suite bylaw was appealed shortly after its debut. Building Better Neighbourhoods, an alliance of Toronto resident associations, launched a legal appeal of the City of Toronto’s decision to include multiplexes in its garden suite bylaw, citing that the City “over-reached Provincial regulations that limit garden suites to single detached, semi-detached, and townhouses,” according to the organisation in a statement issued on March 8th.

Construction permits for garden suites can now be given out. If a proposed garden unit meets height and setback criteria in addition to applicable bylaw standards, only a building permit application is required. In the case where a garden suite proposal doesn’t meet zoning bylaw requirements, applicants can seek a minor variance application at the Committee of Adjustment, the City stated in its press release.

Garden suites and other forms of housing being considered as part of the City’s Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods (EHON) program, which reviews, consults on and advances permissions to allow additional forms of housing in Toronto’s low-rise neighbourhoods.

“Garden suites and other initiatives to expand housing options in low-rise neighbourhoods are key to creating a diverse mix of housing choice that is affordable and accommodates people at all stages of life, household size and income level,” said chair of the planning and housing committee, Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão. “The garden suites initiative will create gentle density increases where residents have access to parks, schools and main street businesses and restaurants."


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