Laneway Housing: More Than Just a Solution To Density

Excerpt from Chestnut Parks 'Invest In Style', Volume 2, Issue 5 Spring 2019 Edition

After years of lobbying, in June of 2018 the city of Toronto and East York amended bylaws to allow laneway suites as a right of planning. These structures allow for endless possibilities and offer a platform for design and ingenuity that Toronto currently lacks. Think of the opportunities. You could build one to use as a wine cellar for extra storage, or utilize a second-storey laneway dwelling loft as office space. They can be used for separate living quarters for kids returning from university, for the in-laws, or a nanny – or you could use your laneway suite for to help pay down your mortgage. These small homes are not only quick builds, but turnkey and affordable, reasons which make this movement an obvious choice as we evaluate the current housing climate in Toronto.

Currently, the Toronto housing landscape is in a revolutionary state. As rental vacancies plummet to an all-time low, with less than 0.7% of rental supply in Central Toronto, and the cost of homeownership increasing at a much faster rate than household incomes, we find ourselves at a precipice. Either we address the missing middle and more affordable housing options are made available, or we jeopardize the cultural variety and vibrancy

Toronto is known and loved for as the more vulnerable and marginalized are forced to move farther and farther outside the city. The Toronto Real Estate Board states: “Ensuring that our City has an appropriate mix of housing choices is extremely important. We have a substantial amount of high-rise condos and rental apartments, and low-rise detached homes, but there is a gap in the middle. We need more ‘gentle density’ and variety in housing options for home buyers and renters. Secondary suites as a right of planning are a part of the answer in this regard.”

It is encouraging that the city of Toronto is gaining some traction with laneway suites as it promises to alleviate some of the housing pressure and low rental vacancies that currently afflict the city. Although Toronto now possesses the framework and tools for a viable solution that will help relieve some density pressure: utilize underappreciated spaces in the city and allow creative and artistic design to make our city an even more vibrant place. However, looking at fast-tracking coach houses and auxiliary dwellings and removing the red tape on secondary suites in the city is now falling behind the province’s framework.

To learn more about how laneway housing can add value to homeowners and the city, read the full article published in Chestnut Park Real Estate Limited, Invest in Style Digital Publication, Volume 2, Issue 5 Spring 2019 Edition, found on page 28-29

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