By-law simplification for low-rise residential zones

Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Attention: Nancy Martins

RE: PH8.3 Housing Action Plan: Zoning By-law Simplification and Modernization for Low-rise Residential Zones – Phase 1 Final Report

Dear Chair Gord Perks and Members of the Planning and Development Committee,

FoNTRA supports simple and clear zoning bylaws, but most important we support bylaws that do the work needed for building and maintaining a livable City. As such we are in broad support of most of the report directions and recommendations.

We have regularly raised concerns that there must be sufficient side yard setback where there will be windows on the side wall. The report addresses our concern by recommending that there be an additional setback of 0.9m for “primary” windows, such as windows of living room areas. We note that this approach was successfully used previously in zoning requirements for the development of the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood.

Simplification is also about simple understanding. Adding units within houses should be encouraged as this will help meet Toronto’s housing targets. During the Depression and World War years many houses in the former City of Toronto R zones were converted to provide more units and later reconverted to single family houses with the loss of many units. But, calling a “converted house” a “low rise apartment building” creates confusion as the building forms are quite different. A converted house is also a multiplex but many converted houses have more than 4 units. So we believe that retaining the category of converted house is appropriate.

Finally, the report notes that the review of FSI and lot coverage is being deferred. That review must make careful consideration of the options as that measures of density (FSI) and lot coverage have been effective are fundamental parameters of built massing and impact and continue to be essential tools in assessing development applications.

Yours truly,

Geoff Kettel
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

Cathie Macdonald
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

CC: Gregg Lintern, Chief Planner, Executive Director, City Planning Division,
Kyle Knoeck, Director, Zoning and Secretary-Treasurer, Committee of Adjustment
Caroline Samuel, Manager, Zoning Section, City Planning Division
Matthew Zentner, Senior Planner, Zoning Section, City Planning Division,

Photo: Ken Lund from Reno, Nevada, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons