The City of Toronto’s Review of Laneway Suites

10th floor, West Tower, City Hall
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

Attention: Nancy Martins

RE: PH29.2 The City of Toronto’s Review of Laneway Suites – Monitoring Program and Zoning Bylaw Amendments – Final Report

Dear Deputy Mayor Ana Bailao, Chair and Members, Planning and Housing Committee

FoNTRA members have participated in City Planning’s consultations to date and have submitted comments on earlier versions.

We remain concerned about two proposed changes that relax the current regulations: the increased permitted height; and the blanket exemption for walkways. The stated reason driving these changes is the frequency of variance requests at Committees of Adjustment. In our opinion such changes should not be based on Committee of Adjustment decisions without evaluating their reasons, if any, and without evaluating the impacts on abutting neighbours.

Proposed Increase in permitted height from 6m to 6.3m

We are pleased to see that the consultant’s recommendation of 6.75m was not accepted. However we question whether an additional 0.3m is required. The technical advice we have received is that an ancillary suite  can be successfully built with a height of 6m. (See attached planning opinion)

FONTRA requests:
That the proposed amendment regarding “Increasing the maximum permitted height of a suite from 6.0 metres to 6.3 metres” NOT be approved.

Proposal to exempt walkways of up to 1.5 m wide from the requirement for soft landscaping for lots in excess of 6 metres

The report states that “maintaining soft landscaping is important for many reasons, including amenity, storm water retention, growing space for trees, and combatting the urban heat island effect”. The report also provides the rationale that the 85% lot area requirement for soft-scaping will result in a comparable relative requirement to that for houses without laneway suites. Given the importance of maintaining, indeed increasing, the permeable surface in residential neighbourhoods, the proposed significant exemption for a 1.5m wide walkway is not needed.

  • Most lots will be able to accommodate the accessibility standard of 1.5m for a walkway area within the 15 % hardscaping limit. A narrower walkway (i.e.: less than 1.5m) should be encouraged to ensure more softscaping.
  • From the main house to the laneway suite is a short distance. Why provide for an exemption of 1.5m ? There is no required walkway width for access from the street to the main house.(And only 0.9 m is required between neighbouring houses for emergency use).
  • The accessibility standard of 1.5m walkway will be needed only in exceptional cases where two wheelchairs would need to pass each other. For normal situation the exemption would merely provide more paved area for other uses.

FONTRA requests:
That the proposed amendment for an exemption for a walkway against the 85% soft landscaping allocation NOT be approved.

Yours truly,

Geoff Kettel
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

Cathie Macdonald
Co-Chair, FoNTRA

Cc:  Gregg Lintern, Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning Division
Greg Uens, Senior Planner, Office of Chief Planner, City Planning Division