campaign aims to boost laneway housing in Toronto (Metro News)

In an article published November 15, 2016, Metro News discusses the possibility of laneway suites to increase living space in the City of Toronto. 

You can view the article below or here at: http://www.metronews.ca/news/toronto/2016/11/15/campaign-aims-to-boost-laneway-housing-in-toronto.html

Campaign aims to boost laneway housing in Toronto (Metro News) 

Housing advocates claim laneway suites can increase rental stock, beautify back alleys and generate extra income for property owners.

There are some laneway suites in Toronto, often called coach houses, but almost all of them are older units that were either built illegally or grandfathered in under city policy.

EDUARDO LIMA / METRO

There are some laneway suites in Toronto, often called coach houses, but almost all of them are older units that were either built illegally or grandfathered in under city policy.

When it comes to solving Toronto’s growing housing crunch, a coalition of advocates, developers and politicians are urging the city to think small.

Non-profit Evergreen is launching a campaign Tuesday geared towards growing the number of laneway suites in Toronto. The city-wide consultation will be done in partnership with laneway advocacy group Lanescape, as well as city councillors Mary-Margaret McMahon and Ana Bailão.

Often referred to as coach houses or granny suites, laneway suites are small, detached units typically located at the rear of residential lots adjacent to alleyways. Housing advocates claim the suites can increase rental stock, help beautify back alleys and generate extra income for property owners.

“How many people today say they can’t afford a home in our city, or can’t afford to rent a home because rents are at an all-time high?” Bailão said. “Laneway suites can help us address some of these issues while protecting something that we love: the character of our neighbourhoods.”

But there’s one problem: new laneway suites aren’t allowed under Toronto’s zoning laws – despite a request from the province that municipalities get on board.

Klaus Lehmann, manager of zoning for the city, says it can be difficult – and costly – to provide services to laneway homes, including things like hydro, garbage pickup, stormwater management and snow clearing.

“You can say you want laneway housing, but there’s a practical side that needs to be addressed that has an impact on the rest of the community,” he said.

Other cities in Canada have developed policies to facilitate laneway suites. Vancouver launched a new laneway housing policy in 2009, and now allows secondary suites to be built behind most detached homes.

Evergreen project manager Jo Flatt said the goal of the consultations will be to find out what residents want to see in their laneways and discover whether policies from other cities can be adapted to the Toronto context.

“We’re pushing for change,” she said. “We want to make laneway suites possible for the average person and demonstrate the interest in laneway suites so the city and move forward on amending our official plan.”

The city-wide consultation on laneway suites takes place Dec. 5 at Evergreen Brick Works (550 Bayview Ave.). 

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