Tiny homes in Toronto starting to catch on but will take time

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Tiny homes, like garden suites or laneway suites, have been seen as a way to help with Toronto’s housing shortage, but it will take some time for them to become a factor.

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Tiny homes are usually between 120 square feet and 400 square feet, or slightly larger. While they are mostly mentioned as an option to help get the homeless a place of their own, they can potentially be utilized by anyone in search of housing.

Garden or laneway suites are a secondary structure built on the property of another home.

The City of Toronto is on board with seeing more tiny homes.

“The city is looking to open up neighbourhoods to more types of housing (secondary suites, garden suites, laneway suites, etc.),” a spokesperson told the Sun.

“These types of housing are also known as the missing middle. Currently there are very few building types between single-family homes and tall buildings. We need more ground-related housing in Toronto. In July 2019, council asked staff to come forward with a workplan to introduce different types of missing middle housing (low-rise). We’re looking at low-rise, low-scale building types that are contextual to the neighbourhoods. We’ve been coming forward with a constant program of new approaches, and this work supports the gradual evolution of neighbourhoods,” they said.


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“They are always changing and this is a way to make our neighbourhoods more inclusive for future generations.”

Laneway suites have been permitted in Toronto since 2018, while garden suites just became permissible as of July, 2022 (a bylaw was originally approved in February, but some Toronto resident associations opposed it and appealed. The appeal was shot down by the Ontario Land Tribunal in June).

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

“Allowing garden suites across Toronto is a key step forward in expanding housing choice within the City’s neighbourhoods and creating a more inclusive and resilient city for current and future residents.”

The city spokesperson said there were only two preliminary zoning reviews for garden suites and no building applications in 2021, but so far in 2022, there have been 49 Preliminary Zoning Reviews for Garden Suites and 10 building permit applications.

There have been 158 preliminary zoning reviews and 110 applications for building permits for new Laneway Suites so far in 2022.

The city said “The Zoning Reviews are an indicator of interest as they would confirm Zoning compliance for a future permit application, and would have been submitted with detailed drawings of the proposed garden suite, showing a fairly significant investment in the concept between the cost of preparing drawings and the fee for the application.”

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Tiny Homes Community Toronto on Facebook has nearly 3,000 members.

Elsewhere in Ontario, the provincial government approved and helped fund a nearly $2-million development in Kingston for tiny homes to house homeless veterans. It is expected to house up to 25 veterans.

Habitat for Humanity is building a 230-square-foot tiny home that will be used by the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation in Neyaashiinigmiing, on the Bruce Peninsula.

Recently, two Niagara Falls city councillors attended a tiny home convention in Ancaster and have been pushing for inclusionary zoning there to allow for tiny homes which can be used for young families as a more affordable solution.

In the U.S., there’s been a trend in some places of churches helping to address homelessness by allowing tiny homes on vacant plots near their parking lots.

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