A consultation summary report was just released regarding Torontonians’ eagerness to move forward with laneway suites. There were three public consultations led by Evergreen, Lanescape, Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon (Ward 32, Beaches – East York), Councillor Ana Bailão (Ward 18, Davenport), and co-facilitated by Crazy Dames. The consultations were mostly positive, so there is going to be a big push to make laneway suites possible in Toronto.
“We had an overwhelming level of attendance at all three consultations,” says Jo Flatt, Senior Program Manager at Evergreen. “People across the city want to be talking and thinking about how laneway suites can work here.”
More than 400 people were consulted in person and there were more than 2,000 responses to an online survey about the future of laneway suites. The consultations and survey are educating Torontonians about the potential of laneway suites, the provincial and municipal policy, and also seeking input for the use and design of the suites.
“It has been exciting to see such a high level of engagement in our own communities and across Toronto,” says McMahon. “The input that our team has received so far is an important part of developing community focused guidelines for laneway suites that reflect the needs and interest of Torontonians.”
So, what is a laneway suite? It’s a smaller dwelling that’s located on the rear side of a residential lot, completely detached from the primary home. All of the services and utilities are connected to the front street. A laneway suite acts as additional space for the property owner. It can be rented but not severed and sold.
Why are laneway suites important? Everyone knows there’s a supply shortage in the resale and new home markets; even the rental market is getting tight. Laneway suites is a way to create new rental housing and also make low-rise housing more affordable for some buyers. Having a detached dwelling on your property that you can rent to a tenant can go a long way in covering your carrying costs.
Toronto’s laneways are due for a revamp. These spaces are often underutilized and fall into disrepair. With new housing facing the laneways, these areas can turn into walkable, pedestrian-friendly thoroughfares.
In addition to adding new housing opportunities to the city, creating the potential for rental income, and breathing new life into underutilized spaces, laneway suites offer an array of benefits. For example, they make multi-generational housing more feasible. Your laneway suite can be used for your kid in college or perhaps your parents you need to keep close by for sentimental or medical reasons. Laneway suites offer closeness with privacy, a rare find in most housing situations.
“With the ongoing housing crisis in Toronto, laneway suites can be an important tool to add gentle density, bring more rental to the market and provide opportunities for multi-generational living to keep families together,” says Bailão.
The pace of development will also be slower, so an area isn’t impacted too much all at once. The transformation can be gradual, and there is the possibility for unique and distinct designs that can make the laneways more vibrant.
Ottawa and Vancouver already permit laneway suites, and it seems to be working for them. It’s time for Toronto to iron out the rules and policy for laneway suites to improve our communities and streetscape.
If you haven’t already, fill out the survey now to help determine how laneway suites can and should be used in Toronto.