Tribunal dismisses appeal, allows garden suites to be built in Toronto

Click to play video: 'Toronto looks to garden suites to grow housing options'
Toronto looks to garden suites to grow housing options
WATCH ABOVE: The city’s planning and housing committee will soon consider a proposal to allow for the development of garden suites in residential neighbourhoods. Shallima Maharaj reports. – Jan 7, 2022

Garden suites are allowed in Toronto after an appeals tribunal dismissed attempts to block a city bylaw allowing the units to be built.

In February, Toronto councillors passed a bylaw allowing residents to build secondary homes, known garden suites, beside their property.

A garden suite is a housing unit “usually located in the backyard of an existing house, but separate and detached from the main house,” according to a definition released by the city in February.

The city said garden suites are “generally” smaller than the main house on the lot, and are often created as a way to house family members such as parents, grandparents or adult children. They can also be used as rental units.

Story continues below advertisement

The bylaw was proposed as a potential route to alleviate the cost of housing in Toronto, for homeowners and renters, by expanding the supply through infill.

A report by found the average one bedroom unit in Toronto during June cost $2,133 — an increase of almost 16 per cent compared to 2021.

However, the bylaw was appealed to the Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) by a group of Toronto resident associations, Building Better Neighbourhoods.

“In its appeal, the alliance argues the City clearly over-reached Provincial regulations that limit garden suites to single detached, semi-detached, and townhouses,” the group said in a statement issued on March 8.

That appeal was dismissed on July 4, allowing the City of Toronto’s February bylaw to come into effect, the city said in a press release.

The decision means garden suites can now be built in Toronto, if they conform with other area-specific planning rules.

If a proposed garden suite is in line with area planning regulations — for example, it is not taller than the maximum height regulations — it only needs a building permit to be constructed, the city said.

For garden suite plans that do not meet local zoning bylaws, residents can request a minor variance at Toronto’s committee of adjustment.

Story continues below advertisement

“This is good news and it will help get some more housing built,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a statement.

Gregg Lintern, Toronto’s chief planner, said allowing garden suites was a “key step” in expanding the city’s housing options and housing supply.

Doug Ford and the Progressive Conservatives also pledged to get 1.5 million new homes built over 10 years during the election campaign.

— with files from Global News’ Hannah Jackson

Sponsored content