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Toronto Targeting Interior Design of Residential Developments

Published: 03/10/2017

By Christie E. Gibson

Yet another layer of policies and guidelines are coming to the City of Toronto. The City is undertaking an examination of how new multi-unit housing in high-density communities can better accommodate families. The study, named “Growing Up: Planning for Children in New Vertical Communities,” cites the high demand for family-sized units within larger complexes: in 2011, 32% of households with children in the City lived in mid- and high-rise buildings. In anticipation of only increasing demand, the City’s stated intention is to “give direction on how new development, regardless of tenure, can better function for growing families by considering three scales of inquiry: the unit, the building and the neighbourhood.” The study intends to address issues such as unit size and layout, building amenities, and design of the public realm and the City has retained a consultant team and deployed various public and stakeholder consultation activities.

The City is now in its third and final phase of the study. By the Fall/Winter of 2017 the City intends to have prepared a draft handbook detailing the guidelines, performance standards and policy directions intended to encourage family-friendly housing. The draft guidelines and standards will be available for public review and will be subject to the study’s third phase of public consultation. The City has released a list of themes that will be addressed in the draft guidelines and performance standards, including building and unit guidelines.

The City has not advised by what means it intends to enforce the guidelines. This is especially relevant given the regulation of interior design and in certain cases the layout of interior areas through site plan is prohibited in the City of Toronto Act, 2006 (and the same prohibition exists for other municipalities under the Planning Act). In light of the City’s recent push for the elevation of other guidelines to a policy level (see our e-lert published May 2016: Toronto Announces New Policy for Tall Downtown Buildings), those in the development industry should keep a close eye on the study as it progresses.

The City’s website provides further details and continuing updates on the study. Please contact any member of Cassels Brock & Blackwell’s Municipal, Planning & Environmental Group for further information.