Housing supply is down significantly in the Greater Toronto Area. In the new construction segment, remaining home inventory reached its lowest level in history during December, falling to 2.3 months worth according to the latest report from the Building Industry and Land Development Association. In the same month, 5,174 resale listings were added to MLS as per the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board, down nearly 12 per cent compared to last year.
To help alleviate the city’s supply issues, the City of Toronto has given the green light to residents to build smaller homes on their property.
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On Feb.2 , Toronto City Council expanded permissions to build garden suites on residential properties. Through new policies and zoning requirements, garden suites will be permitted in most of the city’s residential zones. The garden suites project is one of many initiatives under Toronto’s Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods (EHON) program, which is designed to facilitate more low-rise housing in residential neighbourhoods to “meet the needs of our growing city.”
“This is one of the ways we can get more housing options built and part of the City’s Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods plan,” said Mayor John Tory in a press release.
“We want to help people grow more housing options in neighbourhoods across Toronto. That’s why we introduced a sensible plan to permit Garden Suites to help people build this type of new housing on their property. I believe this will help grow innovative housing options and cut unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy,” he added.
Garden suites are a type of housing unit that is separate and detached from the main house on the lot, and is usually constructed in the backyard. Similar to laneway homes, garden suites are typically smaller than the main house, and are often used as living quarters for family members or as a way to generate rental income.
Prior to City Council’s adoption of the Garden Suites report, secondary suites were allowed city-wide, but were permitted only for properties next to a public lane as laneway suites. The official plan and zoning bylaw amendments for garden suites permit the construction of an additional residential unit on residential properties that are not located on a public lane.
The Garden Suites report adds “garden suites” to the definition of “infill housing.” People who are submitting a building permit application to construct a garden suite will also be required to post a public notice on the property, which the City says will help with monitoring and data collection.
“Garden suites and other initiatives to expand housing options in neighbourhoods are important steps towards accelerating the creation of a diverse range and mix of housing options to accommodate people at all stages of life, and to accommodate the needs of all household sizes and incomes,” said Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão. “Allowing for more people to live in our low-rise neighbourhoods broadens access to parks, schools, local institutions and our local restaurants and shops and creates more vibrant and equitable neighbourhoods.” she added.