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Toronto city council votes to allow garden suites on residential properties

Global News logo Global News 2022-02-03 Hannah Jackson
A Toronto city worker operates a Zamboni on the skating rink outside of Toronto City Hall THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston © THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston A Toronto city worker operates a Zamboni on the skating rink outside of Toronto City Hall THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

Toronto city council has given the go-ahead for garden suites to be built across the city.

On Wednesday, city councillors expanded permissions to allow residents to build garden suites on residential properties.

According to the city, a garden suite is a housing unit "usually located in the backyard of an existing house, but separate and detached from the main house."

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The city said garden suites are "generally" smaller than the main house on the lot, and are often created as a way to house family members such as parents, grandparents or adult children. They can also be used as rental units.

The release said by adopting amendments to the city's Official Plan and zoning bylaws, council has put policies in place to "increase the supply and type of housing available in the city."

"The new policies and zoning requirements will allow garden suites to be permitted on properties in most residential zones across Toronto," the release reads.

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Before city council adopted the report, secondary suites were allowed on properties across the city within a detached house, semi-detached house or a rowhouse.

However, only properties located next to a public lane were permitted to have an additional residential unit within an ancillary building, or a laneway suite.

"The Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw amendments for garden suites allow for the construction of an additional residential unit on residential properties that are not located on a public lane, in accordance with the requirements of the Planning Act," the release said.

The city said the introduction of garden suites across the city adds a "new form of housing to the range of housing permitted across Toronto's neighbourhoods," which increases "both the variety and type of housing available in these areas for residents."

However, the city said while many residences could accommodate a garden suite, "not every property is suitable for one."

"Various factors will influence whether a property can accommodate a garden suite, such as lot width or depth, location and depth of the main house, adequate emergency access, and the location of protected trees," the release reads.

The city said the regulations have been designed so the size and setbacks of a garden suite are relative to the scale of the property and the size and location of the main house.

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In a statement, Toronto Mayor John Tory said the garden suites regulations approved on Wednesday "represent a ‘Made In Toronto’ solution with sensible regulations to protect neighbours, trees/greenspace and create options for multigenerational housing through ‘gentle density.’"

Tory said the city wants to help people grow more housing options across Toronto.

"That’s why we introduced a sensible plan to permit Garden Suites to help people build this type of new housing on their property," he continued. "I believe this will help grow innovative housing options and cut unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy.”

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