Laneway Suite Monitoring Report and Action on Garden Suites

Gregg Lintern
Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning Division

RE: Laneway Suite Monitoring Report and Action on Garden Suites

Dear Gregg,

As you are aware the various Enhanced Housing Options in Neighbourhoods initiatives, especially laneway suites and garden suites, are of great interest, and raise some concerns for residents.

We are aware that the Garden Suites staff report is coming to PHC on June 28th. However we are of the opinion that the Laneway Suites Monitoring Report – a review of Laneway Housing initiatives – needs to be available to inform the consideration of Garden Suites and other initiatives. We have requested this throughout the public consultations. We also expressed that there needed to be resident engagement in the review.

Garden suites, as an additional unit on a lot, have much in common with laneway suites, that come with additional challenges from a public safety and community impact perspective. We believe there is unassailable logic of the need for the availability of the results of the laneway suites to inform the development of a garden suites policy.

As you are aware there were numerous requests for reports on implementation tabled or required as a result of motions passed by TEYCC and City Council during the approval of laneway suites[1]. At this time there is no data and information analysis about the Laneway Suite experience made available to the public. Furthermore, it is our understanding that Planning and Housing Committee has not had the opportunity to review any City monitoring information, to ask questions and to provide comments regarding the effectiveness of the Laneway Suites initiative. This information should be made available to the councillors who will be making decisions about Garden Suites and to the public who are being asked to comment about how the Garden Suite bylaw should be designed. 

We believe that a greater level of transparency around the Laneway Suites experience and learnings overall is not only needed, but is essential in order to properly proceed with Garden Suites. The City should collect and make public information, as suggested above, for consideration when making decisions about Garden Suites. This information must be provided to both the public and members of Council. We respectfully request that Laneway suites monitoring information be tabled at the June Planning and Housing Committee, with the interim Garden Suites report.

Yours truly,

Geoff Kettel
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

Cathie Macdonald
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

cc: Members of Planning and Housing Committee


[1] For example, TE33.3 approved by City Council on June 26, 2018:

  • Item 4: Planning report to Toronto and East York Community Council; earlier of 2 years following in full force or issuance of 100th building permit review and recommend revisions or changes to improve.

Appendix: Sample Evaluation Questions regarding Laneway Suites Program Results to date

The types of questions and outstanding considerations in the review of Laneway Suites are as follows:

  • Has the City interviewed applicants with approved applications, how many are completed and/or builds-in progress? What are the learnings?
  • Has the City interviewed adjacent neighbours and the local Residents Association?
  • what impact, positive and negative, have these applications had on the adjacent residents particularly regarding privacy, light, parking, neighbourhood character, and loss of soft landscaping?
  • what advice/lessons learned do they offer for improvements?
  • How many laneway suite applications have involved Committee of Adjustment applications for minor variances? How many were approved, how may refused?  What is City Planning’s opinion about these applications?   What type of variances were requested; how significant?
  • How many of the completed Laneway suites are family occupied
  • How many how many of the completed Laneway Suites are rentals, and what is their rental price distribution? How many are providing affordable rental housing?
  • How many applications have been submitted for the Affordable Laneway Suites Pilot Program? What is the number granted and what is the total granted dollar value?
  • How many cars are owned by the main house occupants and the Laneway Suite occupants? Where are these cars being parked?
  • How many applications have been submitted for the Development Charges Deferral program? What is the number granted and what is the total granted dollar value?
  • Are there common issues that point to the need for changes to the bylaws?