• Councillor Mark Grimes

Q & A - Garden Suites

On January 25, 2022, the Long Branch Neighbourhood Association hosted the Allendale Residents Association from Barrie Ontario to present their experience with Garden Suites. A number of questions and comments were raised at the meeting. City Planning staff were in attendance but were not part of the panel of presenters. In order to respond to the questions and comments from the discussion, City Planning have provided the following Q&A that reflect the themes from discussion at the meeting.

For more information about the City Planning Division’s recommendations on Garden Suites, please visit www.Toronto.ca/GardenSuites

The City Planning Division’s report on Garden Suites can be found here

If you would like to speak with City Planning staff on this initiative please contact:

David Driedger Senior Planner, Community Planning Email: David.Driedger@toronto.ca

Allison Reid Program Manager, Urban Design Email: Allison.Reid@toronto.ca

1) How are trees protected on the property where a Garden Suite is proposed, as well as trees on Neighbouring properties? Can the City prohibit development on lots where trees will be impacted?

The City of Toronto has a tree protection By-law, which applies to all trees on private property with a diameter of 30cm at breast height. In contrast, the City of Barrie has a By-law to protect woodlots and does not protect individual trees on a property.

In practice, in cases where a Garden Suite is designed to meet the proposed By-law rules (i.e. as-of-right construction), but construction would necessitate the injury or removal of a tree, the General Manager of Parks, Forestry, and Recreation may refuse the tree permit, in accordance with Municipal Code Chapters 608, 658, and 813. The applicant may appeal the decision to the appropriate Community Council. This practice is unique to laneway suites and garden suites, representing an elevated level of oversight and protection of neighbourhood trees, when compared to any other type of low-rise construction in Neighbourhoods.

The proposed Garden Suites by-law also includes requirements for green space on a lot. It requires that a minimum of 50% of the total rear yard area must be soft landscaping (such as trees, grass, and gardens). For lots with a frontage of less than 6.0 metres, a minimum of 25% of the rear yard must be soft landscaping. These requirements are the same as the existing zoning by-law standards for soft landscaping in the rear yard of residential properties. In addition to providing amenity space that may serve the residents of a lot, soft landscaping in rear yards presents an important opportunity to provide the permeable space needed to retain storm water on site, and support tree and ecological functions.

City Planning Staff worked closely with the City’s Urban Forestry staff in the development of the Garden Suites standards.

2) Is there a maximum floor area requirement in Toronto’s proposed Garden Suite By-law?

3) Is there a minimum floor area requirement in Toronto’s proposed Garden Suite By-law?

4) Has the City considered seriously scaling back the size of Garden suites and/or limiting units to one floor?

5) Should the side yard setback for a Garden Suite be increase?

6) Are basements being recommended for Garden Suites?

7) Are Garden Suites intended to be Affordable Housing or Market Housing?

8) Are Garden Suites subject to Inclusionary Zoning?

9) Will Garden Suites be targeted by property investors?

10) How will applications for variances for larger garden suites be considered at the COA?

11) Does Provincial Policy allow Garden Suites to be excluded from certain Neighbourhoods?

12) Should the City require a “scoped site plan approval” for Garden Suites, similar to Barrie?

13) Can the City require that Garden Suites be owner occupied?

14) Can Garden Suites be used for Short Term Rentals (AirBnB)?

15) Should Garden Suites require a Building Permit? And should information be required to be posted so neighbours understand what is being built?

16) Should the City’s Garden Suites By-law have a density or FSI requirement?

17) Have you considered legislation making it easier for homeowners to create a legal basement unit or an addition to a house?

18) Can homeowners with large existing garages convert them into modest housing units?