Garden Suites

Garden Suites Appeal

In March, 2022, seven residents’ organization appealed the City’s approval of Garden Suites legislation to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) – SAHRA is one of the appellants.  We are not against Garden Suites, but we have concerns on how the Official Plan Amendment and Zoning Bylaws are written. 

The appeal was registered with the OLT. Then the City Solicitor requested a hearing to consider a Motion to Dismiss our appeal – the hearing will be held on June 2 and 3.

The seven residents’ organizations submitted a letter to the Councillors on May 5th, with schedules and attachments (the letter and schedules – Letter to Toronto Councillors and the attachment – Attachment 1 Garden Suites), describing some of our concerns. In preparation for the City Council meeting on May 11th, we have asked the Councillors to consider tabling/supporting a motion “to direct staff to meet with us to resolve our concerns rather than seeking to litigate at the hearing on June 2”.  We believe that working together to take action now to resolve our Garden Suites concerns will ensure the creation of Garden Suites that people envision. 

Please send an email to our Councillor, Mike Colle ([email protected]) asking that he support the motion directing staff to speak with us to resolve concerns.

 

Garden Suites – Call To Action

Did you know that on February 2, 2022, the City of Toronto passed legislation that allows two houses on almost all residential lots in the city?

This by-law change affects all residential lots in the city – over 500,000 – and allows two houses per lot, with the potential for up to five apartment units on some properties. The second house is called a “Garden Suite” and can be up to 1,900 square feet, two storeys, with a basement.

The City has been marketing this change as “gentle intensification” which most of us support in principle, but the marketing doesn’t match the reality permitted by this flawed by-law. You have no right of appeal over any Garden Suite construction, even if it affects your privacy, your trees, or your quality of life.

Surprised? You’re not alone. The change came with little public consultation, while everyone was distracted by COVID-19.

Residents’ associations across Toronto believe homeowners need to know what this rezoning means to their quality of life, the character of their neighbourhoods and their property values.

Seven appeals have been filed for the Garden Suites legislation – SAHRA is one of the appellants as we have concerns about this legislation.

We believe this rezoning needs to be put on hold and rewritten now and we need your help to let our councillors and the mayor know that we’re not happy with what they’ve done. We urge the City to sit down with residents groups to resolve this.

Send Email to the Mayor and City Councillors

 

What are the problems?

  • One-size-fits-all regulations without any recognition of differences between neighbourhoods
  • Rezoning by-law passed by Council with no notification to over 500,000 affected homeowners and very little input from residents.
  • City extending Garden Suite zoning beyond province’s request to duplex, triplex, fourplex & low-rise apartment properties.
  • Allowed Garden suites are too big, too high, too close to neighbours and allow for destruction of the primary residence
  • “As-of-right” suites – means no appeal possible by neighbours.
  • “As-of-right” buildings remove trees – private trees, border trees or neighbour’s trees as well as backyard green space
  • Developers, investors, and speculators competing with home buyers and causing renovictions
  • Misconception of these units being “affordable housing” – most rent at market rates
    The City has ignored other municipalities’ experiences

What are we asking for?

  • Smaller Garden Suites and no basements
  • Rules based on density that protects the environment
  • Strong protection for trees, tree canopies and green spaces
  • City to send a plain language explanation bulletin to Toronto homeowners

Change regulations to respond to needs of tenants and homeowners versus developers and speculators.


Garden Suites – The Outcome

Since March, 2021, SAHRA has been reporting on the review of proposed Official Plan Amendments and Zoning By-law Amendments to allow Garden Suites to be constructed in the back yards of homes, as-of-right, across the City. SAHRA was not opposed to the Garden Suites initiative – it is legislated by the Provincial Government that they be allowed. But it is within the power of the City to determine the specific Garden Suite regulations.  We were asking for modifications to be made to lessen the impact on the tree canopy, our neighbourhoods and the adjacent neighbours.

On Dec 19, 2021, we advised that Planning was preparing their Final Report for submission to the Planning and Housing Committee on January 12, 2022. When the Report was published, we were very disappointed that none of our requested changes were included in the Final Report or the proposed Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments, although they did make some changes to strength the tree protection statements.

SAHRA, FoNTRA, many other residents’ associations and residents across the City submitted letters and spoke at the Planning and Housing Committee meeting on Jan 12th asking for consideration of the following issues: 

  • Extension of Zoning to Multiplexes and Apartments
  • Primary Building Length
  • Separation Distance
  • Conversion of Existing Ancillary Buildings
  • Monitoring Review in 1 year
  • Information Guides
  • Building and Planning Department processes and forms

Planning staff were asked to prepare a supplementary report for City Council review on Feb 2 on the some of the topics but the Planning and Housing Committee approved the Recommendations as-is.

The Long Branch Neighbourhood Association held a Zoom meeting where representatives from Barrie spoke on their experience with the implementation of Garden Suites back in 2019 and the need to revise the by-laws in 2021. In letters to City Council for the Feb. 2, 2022 meeting, residents’ associations asked the City to consider the lessons learned by the Barrie experience.

The discussion at the City Council meeting on February 2, 2022 dealt with whether Garden Suites should exist or not, rather than whether some of the regulations needed to be modified. The ten Recommendations passed by the Planning and Housing Committee were approved along with nine additional motions by a vote of 19 to 5 with 2 absent. Councillor Colle voted Yes. Review Garden Suites Motions Summary Feb 2 2022 for a summary of the nineteen Recommendations. 

What did we accomplish?  For all our efforts, we did not ‘improve’ any of built form regulations but we can take pride in the following:

  • Ensured that our members were aware of the Garden Suites initiative, encouraging their participation in the survey and in the virtual community consultation process.
  • Advocated on the need to strengthen tree protection regulations – changes were made to the Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments.
  • Advocated for the need for neighbours to be notified of a building permit application for a Garden Suite – a Notice will now need to be posted.
  • Building and Planning have to maintain a list of information on all Building Permit and Committee of Adjustment applications; the local Councillor is to be informed of Garden Suites building permits once issued.
  • Planning was instructed to consult with residents’ associations when preparing the Monitoring Report (in 2 years or on issuance of the 200th building permit).

We now await applications to be submitted for Building Permits and Committee of Adjustment variances!

 

Garden Suites Update (Dec, 2021)

On Nov 14th, we advised that the City had provided Information & Reports on the City’s website as the final Community Consultation. Residents were given until Nov 30th to submit their comments – Planning would then prepare their Financial Report for submission to the Planning and Housing Committee on January 12, 2022. 

SAHRA submitted Comments as well as FoNTRA (the Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Associations) based on the reviews completed by a Laneway and Garden Suites Working Group supported by ARRIS’s Planning Report. The key recommendations were:

  • That the Garden Suites by-law include a provision that clarifies that a garden suite is not permitted on lots that are below certain minimum lot area, or depth and width dimensions, as well as those that cannot meet OBC (Ontario Building Code) and Fire Code access requirements.
  • That the Garden Suites by-law include a provision that clarifies that the number of storeys (one or two) is subject to and dependent on the OBC minimum dwelling size and minimum room size requirements.
  • That the permitted zoning length of the primary dwelling and/or the actual building length is greater than the permitted, be used in conjunction with the front yard setback in the proposed by-law amendments, rather than the current rear main wall as currently proposed.
  • That the required Separation Distance between the primary dwelling and the garden suite be 7.5 metres (25’) and with no association to the height of the garden suite.

 You can review the letters and supporting documents here:

SAHRA Garden Suites Consultation Comments Nov 30 2021
FoNTRA Garden Suites Letter Dec 7 2021 Final
Comments on Proposed Garden Suites Official Plan Amendments
ARRIS GARDEN SUITES Comments and Recommendations Dec 5-2021

Planning advised on Dec 17th that the Final Report will be available on Jan 5, 2022 and that the proposed Official Plan Amendment and Zoning By-law Amendment will be available on December 20th.  We do not believe that our requested changes will be included in the Final Report or the proposed Zoning By-law Amendment but we will review the documents once they are available. We will then prepare our comments for presentation at the Planning and Housing Committee meeting on Jan 12th.  We will provide Members with information on how they can make their thoughts known as well in early January.

 

Garden Suites Update

A “Garden Suite” is a second, generally smaller, house built in the backyard of a detached, semi-detached, or townhouse property. The City is intending to pass city-wide zoning permitting these suites in all neighbourhoods subject to certain standards.


The Garden Suite Community Meeting Presentation was discussed at the consultation meetings.Planning presented a Garden Suites Proposal to the Planning and Housing Committee (PHC) on June 28

The residents associations are now reviewing the proposed Draft Regulations – a Summary of Proposed Draft Garden Suite Regulations is attached for your review.

Next Steps

We understand additional consultations are to take place over the summer. Planning is to submit a Final Report and Amendments to the Zoning By-laws for the Planning and Housing Committee and then to City Council sometime in Quarter 4 of 2021 (Oct-Dec).

 

Garden Suites Community Consultation Presentation
Here is a link to the slide deck that was used for the Presentation at the Community Consultations meetings on May 11, 12 and 13, 2021:

Garden Suite Community Meeting presentation

 

Garden Suites – Next Step – Community Consultation Meetings

As the next step in the consultation process, City Planning will be hosting a series of virtual community consultation meetings where residents can learn more, ask questions, and share comments about Garden Suites.  Three sessions have been arranged to provide additional date/time options but the same content will be reviewed at each meeting.

Date: Tuesday, May 11, 2021    Time: 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Date: Wednesday, May 12, 2021  Time: 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Date: Thursday, May 13, 2021    Time: 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

The meetings will be Online and phone-in only. To join pre-registration is required at http://www.toronto.ca/cpconsultations (scroll to Page 6 for the meeting titled ‘Garden + Suites Study Community Meeting’).

Additional information about the Garden + Suites study is available at the study website.

For more information on Garden Suites, please contact the City Planning project leads David Driedger [email protected] and Allison Reid [email protected].

 

What is a Garden Suite?

A Garden Suite is a second, generally smaller house, usually located in the rear yard of a detached, semi-detached or townhouse property. Garden suites are also sometimes called “coach houses”, “carriage houses”, “detached accessory dwelling units” or “ADU”. Garden Suites are generally smaller than the main house and function as a rental housing unit. The City hopes these new homes will provide affordable rentals and homes for grown children and aging parents.

The City is looking into “Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods” in response to Provincial requirements. In 2018-2019, Laneway Suites of up to two storeys became permitted in backyards of homes on lots that are next to a public laneway.

The Garden Suites project will recommend policies and regulations for detached suites on properties that are not next to a public lane.  Garden Suites are non-severable, meaning they can’t be turned into a separate property from the same house, they remain under the same ownership as the main house, and are serviced with water, sewer and other utilities through a connection to the main house or the street.

“Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods”
You can visit the website to learn more about this program.

Garden Suites Website
For more information, please visit the study’s Garden + Suites Website .

Some Things to Think About
The Garden Suites Survey just released by the City is the first step in collecting information from the public about the opportunities and limitations of Garden Suites in neighbourhoods across the City. By responding to the Survey you can help define the rules and regulations for Garden Suites.

 Before you respond to the Survey, consider …

  • Would you like to build a small home in your back yard for family or to rent out?
  • Would you like your neighbours to build a small home in their backyard?
  • How high and how large will Garden Suites be? 
  • How would a one or two storey building on, or adjacent to, your backyard affect: your garden, your sunshine, your privacy, light intrusion at night or noise from AC and residents?
  • Should short term rentals (such as Airbnb) be allowed?
  • What obligation should there be for a person building a Garden Suite to consult with adjacent neighbours before they build?
  • Where would the residents in Garden Suites park their cars?
  • How will the construction of these new homes affect the tree cover, green space, and water drainage in your neighbourhood?
  • Will emergency access to these new Garden Suites and existing homes be adequate? 
  • Will Garden Suites trigger re-evaluations and property tax changes impacting affordability in the long term for property owners who are not interested in constructing a Garden Suite?
  • How many additional units are possible across the City and what effects might these have on the City’s infrastructure such as police and fire services, sewer, water, parks, schools, etc?

 

Garden Suites Survey

After reading the survey you may want more information about how any zoning changes will impact your home, your investment, your taxes, your family’s life, and the quality of life in your neighbourhood. 

Additional consultations will follow.  If you wish to be consulted on the details of the proposed standards and regulations such as size and height, lot coverage, impact on property values and municipal tax, etc., contact [email protected], 416-392-7613.