Ontario Construction News staff writer
Final recommendations that would end so-called exclusionary zoning and permit multiplex housing units across all Toronto neighbourhoods were approved by Toronto City Council at its regular meeting Wednesday.
With the meeting extended to accommodate dozens of speakers including representatives from neighborhood associations, council approved a proposed amendment to its official plan and city-wide zoning bylaw late in the afternoon, to enable low-rise housing with two, three or four units in a single building in all neighbourhoods including those where current bylaws allow only single-family dwellings.
The new recommendations were released by the city’s chief planner and adopted with amendments at the April 27 meeting of the Planning and Housing Committee. The final recommendations also propose a monitoring program to track issues related to achieving multiplex housing.
The multiplex initiative is a component of the city’s 2023 Housing Action Plan that aims to increase the supply of housing in anticipation of at least 700,000 new Toronto residents by 2051.
The city says recommendations in the report were informed by feedback received through extensive public consultation, the latest round of which launched on February 9. The city released a revised draft official plan amendment and a draft zoning bylaw amendment on the city’s website. Members of the public were invited to submit comments via e-mail, attend a virtual public consultation and complete a survey about the amendments.
In a statement the city says housing growth in Toronto has been in mid- and high-rise apartment buildings concentrated in densely populated areas, while the supply of low-rise housing has not kept up with demand. Toronto’s low-rise neighbourhoods are changing, but much of this change has come through expanding and rebuilding single detached homes with some addition of secondary suites.
The city says multiplex housing can create more options for residents while supporting climate goals by reducing emissions through neighbourhoods that allow people to walk, bike, or take transit; allowing for less carbon-intensive construction; and helping to protect the regional greenspace system by better using urbanized land. With as-of right zoning permissions, this type of housing can be delivered comparatively quickly as owners will only be required to obtain a building permit rather than official plan or zoning by-law approvals. Once enabled, it will remain the choice of the individual property owner whether to exercise these permissions.
“Expanding multiplex development will help create more homes for people in all neighbourhoods. It is the right thing to do, and I believe it will make sure we have a vibrant city for more families to live in,”
Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie said in the statement.