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.

The Promise

The Reality

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.

We understand that appeals have been filed for the Garden Suites legislation and we support the concerns of the appellants.

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.

The Background

The Province instructed municipalities to draft regulations to allow for “gentle intensification” on lots with single detached, semi-detached and townhouses, but the City took the liberty of going much farther.

This change favours developers and speculators – not the needs of tenants and homeowners.

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 and 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.

Thank you for your support!

Who are we?

Building Better Neighbourhoods is an alliance of neighbourhood associations from across Toronto working  together to achieve clear, responsible and sustainable rules for neighbourhood development and renewal.

The City is rezoning every neighbourhood lot for higher density. This major re-thinking of the City of Neighbourhoods must not abandon good planning principles or it will result in a loss of the quality of community for present and future homeowners and tenants.