In a significant step towards addressing Toronto’s housing crisis, the city council has approved a new zoning policy allowing townhouses and small apartments on most major streets. The decision passed last month is a significant shift in urban development to increase housing density and availability across Toronto.

Expanding Housing Options

Before the change, townhouses and small apartments were confined to designated areas. The new policy permits the construction of up to six-storey apartment buildings with a maximum of 60 units along major roads. The adjustment substantially increased from the initial recommendation of 30 units, reflecting the city’s urgent need for more housing.

Benefits of Increased Density

The benefits of this policy are manifold. The increased density along transit routes and corridors will help distribute growth evenly across the city, ensuring that housing is available in diverse locations. The moderate-density approach will provide various housing options to accommodate Toronto’s rapidly growing population. Furthermore, it will unlock over 31,000 lots for potential new housing developments.

In line with this new policy, the city council has also tasked staff with exploring ways to facilitate the construction of rent-controlled, affordable rentals and affordable ownership homes by non-profit providers on these newly available lots. The initiative ensures that housing growth is inclusive and benefits residents across different income levels.

Community Engagement and Considerations

An essential aspect of this initiative is community engagement. The city council has directed staff to engage with residents in areas like Scarborough to discuss the appropriateness of the increased density and consider community feedback. This approach aims to balance development needs with the concerns and inputs of local communities.

However, not all areas are affected by this change. Certain regions, such as those near Lawrence Avenue East and east of East Avenue, were excluded due to specific factors like minimally affected properties, steep topography, and future expansions of Rouge National Park.


Overcoming Opposition

Despite opposition from residents’ associations and a few city councillors who attempted to exempt major streets in their wards, the council’s decision stood firm. Councillors from Don Valley East, Scarborough-Guildwood, Etobicoke North, and Etobicoke Centre were among those who proposed exemptions, but their amendments were not passed.

A Step Towards Housing Goals

This move is part of Toronto’s broader strategy to meet its ambitious housing targets. The city has endorsed a provincial goal of building 285,000 new homes by 2030, and Mayor Chow’s housing plan explicitly aims to construct 65,000 affordable housing units within this period.

By permitting higher-density housing along major streets, Toronto is taking a significant step toward solving its housing crisis. The policy will increase the housing supply and promote more inclusive and diverse communities. As the city progresses with this plan, ongoing community engagement and thoughtful implementation will be key to its success.

Final Say

Toronto’s decision to allow townhouses and small apartments on major streets is a forward-thinking approach to addressing its housing needs. It promises to provide more housing options, support population growth and promote balanced urban development. Densecity has you covered if you’re looking to build.

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