In June 2018 Councillors Ana Bailao and Mary Margaret McMahon along with local design firms presented recommendations report to Toronto City Council which proposed policies regarding laneway suites built on community consultations and city-wide surveys.
The City adopted the Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments on June 28th, 2018 allowing laneway suites in the Toronto and East York District. In July 2019 further amendments were made legalizing laneway suites on residential lots city-wide with the exception of the area bounded by Avenue Road, the Canadian Pacific (CP) Limited rail corridor, Yonge Street, Rosedale Valley Road, Sherbourne Street, Bloor Street East and Bloor Street West. These By-laws allow a maximum of one laneway suite to be placed on a residential lot.
Basic eligibility requirements are shown below:
The maximum length (depth) of a laneway suite is 10 metres (32 feet - 9 inches). The maximum width of a laneway suite is 8 metres (26 feet - 3 inches) - measured perpendicular to the lot centreline.
As with most residential construction setbacks are required to ensure security, privacy, and a uniform neighbourhood. A setback is the minimum distance between the adjacent property boundary and the outermost wall of a building. They refer to the parts of a laneway suite above and below ground except for the suite’s footings. Setbacks are useful to ensure security, privacy, and uniformity within a neighbourhood.
The minimum rear yard setback for a laneway suite is 0 metres if the rear property line does not abut a street or public lane and there is no vehicle access, doors, or windows. It is 1.5 metres (4 feet - 11 inches) in all other cases. Similarly, the side yard setback is 0 metres if the side property line does not abut a street or public lane and there is no vehicle access, doors, or windows. If the side property line abuts a street the minimum setback is the required minimum for the residential building and 1.5 metres (4 feet - 11inches) in all other cases.
A lot’s frontage can be described as the horizontal distance along the front of a lot (usually along the street) or between two side lot lines. Why is this important you may ask? Knowing this distance is important because when the frontage is 6 metres (19 feet - 8 inches) or less, a minimum of 60% of the area between the rear wall of the main house and the front wall of the laneway suite must be soft landscaping (i.e. not decorative stonework, retaining walls, walkways, or other hard-surfaced landscape-architectural elements). When the frontage is 6 metres (19 feet - 8 inches) or more, a minimum of 85% is required. The area between the front wall of the laneway suite and the property boundary along the lane must be landscaped (excluding a permitted driveway) and 75% of the landscaping should be soft landscaping.
A separation of 5 metres (16 feet - 4 inches) is required between the proposed laneway suite and the main house when the laneway suite is 4 metres (13 feet) or less in height. However, when the proposed laneway suite exceeds 4 metres (13 feet) a separation of 7.5 metres (24 feet - 7 inches) is required.
At a distance of 7.5 m from the main residence and 4 m high, there is a 45 degree angular plane that must be satisfied. This plane is projected upward and toward the rear property line. A dormer or vertical extension of the main wall is allowed to protrude this angular plane once it does not exceed 30% of the total width of the suite’s front main wall.
Windows and Skylights
Windows and skylights may project into the angular plane a maximum of 0.3 metres (11.7 inches).
The maximum height of a laneway suite greater than 5 metres ( but less than 7.5 metres (24 feet - 7 inches) from the main residence is 4m (16 feet - 4 inches). A laneway suite more than 7.5 metres (24 feet - 7 inches) from the main residence is 6 metres (19 feet - 8 inches). Currently a laneway suite may not exceed two storeys.
Elements such as antennae, flagpoles, satellite dishes, weathervanes, parapet walls for green roofs, electrical, mechanical, ventilation, chimneys, and vents cannot exceed the maximum height by more than 1 metre. These elements cannot cover more than 30% of the horizontal roof area or be located closer than 1 metre (3 feet - 3 inches) to the main walls of the laneway suite.
The gross floor area of a laneway suite is not included in calculating the gross floor area and floor space index for a property.
The area of the property covered by a laneway suite cannot cover more than 30% of the property area.
According to By-law 810-2018, no vehicle parking spaces are required for laneway suites however, they must have two bicycle parking spaces within the laneway suite or within any required yard setback.
The problem of access for emergency services is often a key reason that a property owner is unable to get approval for a laneway suite. Access for the fire department must be provided to each building by means of a street, private roadway, or yard. The path of travel must not be greater than 45 metres (148 feet) in length measured from the public street to the entry of the laneway. A fire hydrant must also be located within 45 metres (148 feet) of where a firefighting vehicle would park in front of the subject property. This path of travel must be provided to the entry of a laneway suite and may be provided on the subject property or through the lane. A level and unobstructed path of travel 0.9 metre (2.95 feet) wide and 2.1 metres (7 feet) high must be maintained and may be shared with a neighbouring property once both owners enter into a Limiting Distance Agreement.
To find out more information visit the City of Toronto Website.