Photo: Patrick B/Flickr
Architect and builder George Popper has a problem with what he calls Toronto’s “garbage requirements.”
He’s not using a pejorative term for development regulations he disagrees with.
Popper, co-founder of Grid Developments, is quite literally talking about a municipal waste-collection policy, one he says has been stymying infill development in the city.
“It’s dramatically changed infill development,” says Popper, referring to a form of development that takes advantage of vacant or underused parcels in dense urban areas.
Boutique builder Curated Properties’ Lanehouse on Bartlett, built off a narrow, cobblestone laneway, or Grid Developments‘ very own Sunday School Lofts, which will incorporate a century-old church facade into a 32-unit condo project, are recent examples of infill projects.
A 2012 policy Popper is critical of dictates that larger new developments need to have an access route for garbage trucks to enter.
The “loading area must be designed in such a way as to allow a collection vehicle to enter the site, collect the waste and exit without the need to backup onto a public street,” the City policy states.
Whether or not a building has to meet this requirement is determined on a “case-by-case” basis, a City spokesperson tells BuzzBuzzNews.
“We can’t really say there is a limit to the number of units because it depends on the specifics of each location,” the spokesperson says, noting the use of shared bins could be a workaround to reduce the number curbside containers.
If the access point is deemed necessary, either a turnaround area with room for a garbage truck to make a three-point turn or a route with two entry points that can be driven through are options for developers, the City suggests.
The City says the policy that ensures trucks don’t have to back up into traffic is in place for safety reasons. It’s also a matter of limiting the number of bins around sidewalks, which could become an obstacle for passersby.
But Popper tells BuzzTV the garbage truck access requirement “limits tremendously what you can do” as a developer.
One of his past projects, completed in 2001, wouldn’t have ever left the drawing board if the 2012 policy had been in effect, he says.
The 11-unit development in question, which restored a since-designated heritage property at 397 Brunswick in Toronto’s Annex tree-lined neighbourhood and saw the construction of a row of townhouses behind it, “could not be built today because of garbage requirements.”
Residents — Popper among them — have to tote their garbage to Brunswick on pickup day, he explains. “Today, that would not be acceptable,” he adds.
Popper has heard that the City is considering changing its policy, a move he’d welcome.
“From what I understand the City is actually reevaluating that [policy] because they recognize that there are opportunities that are being missed for modest intensification,” he says. “We’re hopeful that that will be revisited.”
But a statement from a City spokesperson suggests there are no plans to kick the policy to the curb.
“These requirements have formally been in place for over four years and we’re not aware of any proposed changes,” the spokesperson says.
To hear more on what Popper has to say about this policy, listen to the Urbanize This! podcast below from BuzzBuzzHome founder Matthew Slutsky and Spring Realty broker/owner Ara Mamourian.