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Zoning Reform Ideas

Ottawan

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#1
Really I just wanted to post a blog post written by Alain Miguelez of Ottawa, a very well-meaning and articulate senior planning official, with some ideas that I think could be applicable and helpful if imported to Toronto:

http://www.livablecities.org/blog/little-things-ottawa-doing-restore-human-scale-2

This post deals with new zoning that allows retail on select streets and corners in otherwise residential areas. It also notes a new relaxation of parking requirements leading to the construction of 12 unit apartment buildings in central neighbourhoods (something that in itself would likely be impossible or very difficult in Toronto given the restrictiveness of the yellow belt zoning). As some context, when Miguelez mentions "Traditional Mainstreets", these are largely akin to Toronto's Avenues.

When looking for a thread to post this article, I wasn't aware of one that fits. I think a thread that more broadly looks at how zoning could be reformed for the better in Toronto might be helpful.
 
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#3
ONe small thing I've often thought to allow limited intensification in neighbourhoods would be to allow 3-4 floor apartment blocks on corner lots. This allows easier servicing of parking requirements as you can place the spaces / garages in the rear yard space, and would allow 4-8 apartment units without disturbing the neighbourhood character. They just built something exactly like this at Niagara and Adelaide, northwest corner. The architecture is extremely ugly but the built form seems very contextual, and it's a nice, affordable way to add density. Oh, and amend the Site Plan Approval requirements so that it is not required for a development like this.

Obviously I would like to see 3/4 floor walkups everywhere in neighbourhoods when close to an arterial road, but this could be a good start.

https://www.google.ca/maps/@43.6440...4!1s0_ClwiYLbpqLhWpNMz5PMw!2e0!7i13312!8i6656
 

MTown

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#5
Wasn't it normal 100 years ago for businesses to be allowed hither and tither in otherwise residential areas? What happened? Post-war ruination along with ripping out tracks for cars?

This would be great. Reminds me of some my ancestral towns in Europe where there are businesses in people's ground floors or yards all over primarily residential neighbourhoods. It makes life a lot more pleasant not having to trek hundreds of meters (or more) just to get some bloody mineral water.

PS: @innsertnamehere , what material did they use on the facade of that building you linked to? It sure is ugly.
 
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#6
Wasn't it normal 100 years ago for businesses to be allowed hither and tither in otherwise residential areas? What happened? Post-war ruination along with ripping out tracks for cars?

This would be great. Reminds me of some my ancestral towns in Europe where there are businesses in people's ground floors or yards all over primarily residential neighbourhoods. It makes life a lot more pleasant not having to trek hundreds of meters (or more) just to get some bloody mineral water.
Sorauren Avenue in Parkdale/Roncesvalles is a bit like that: mostly residential, but here and there with commercial uses on corners (or near corners): 3 coffee shops, a convenience store, a yoga studio, a hairdresser, a doggy day care. I think this is really ideal from a density/walkability standpoint.

At the same time, some residential corner buildings clearly used to be commercial but were converted (on nearby McDonnell also), and new construction has not attempted to include commercial uses -- in my view a missed opportunity when the condo at 383 Sorauren was built.
 

Towered

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#8
It's an absolute must to enhance the quality of life in residential areas. Also, all the old Victorian homes along downtown streets like Dufferin and Bathurst should be allowed to convert to commercial uses without any fuss at all.

But the real game changer would be to re-zone all major streets and arterial roads as mixed use. 4 storey minimum. No surface parking. That would be the stab in the suburban heart that this city badly needs on a large scale.
 

MTown

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#9
Yeah, exclusionary zoning is sort of stupid. I never really understood where it came from, having spent huge parts of my youth in Europe. Never understood what everyone's problem here was....suburban mazes, I just never understood the point.
It's counterintuitive, inefficient, inhuman design.
 

jje1000

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#15
Problems for densification- but intensifying the suburbs should be an interesting challenge.
Toronto wants mid-rise housing, but can we afford it?
Builders in Toronto are facing something of a dilemna: Residents want fewer high-rises and planners are making available more sites suitable for more compact buildings, but costs are making mid-rise residential properties exceptionally expensive to construct.

“My colleagues, we like mid-rise work,” said architect Richard Witt, executive principal at Toronto’s Quadrangle. “It’s interesting; it’s less formulaic, so you often get more interesting building. But the economics of it don’t work for anybody. Almost every client that’s done them has never done another one.”
Ms. Day said that in the beginning, the city believed these mid-rise avenue projects would also add more affordable units to expensive midtown neighbourhoods such as those along St. Clair Avenue, which is zoned for eight-storey mid-rise buildings. But that has not been the result. According to developers, they often price these new condos higher than other housing types in the neighbourhood. “These projects don’t end up being what I would characterize as luxury, but do end up being for end-users and are not ‘affordable’ products,” Quadrangle’s Mr. Witt said.
Many factors have combined to make mid-rise expensive. Some are common to all building types: Land costs and construction costs have been shooting up in Toronto, and often, even on an avenue that has mid-rise zoning “as of right,” a lengthy rezoning process still needs to unfold if a builder wants to go higher, change parking, break the angular plane or make any other significant alterations. But, as Mr. Witt explained to a building-industry conference last month, the size of the building limits your ability to amortize those fixed costs: 80-100 units in a mid-rise have to cover the same building costs that a larger 200- to 300-unit high-rise must. “You’re doing all of the complicated bits, with none of the easy bits to soak up the cost,” Mr. Witt said.
Ms. Day said that there have been discussions in Toronto’s planning department on whether the city should offer lower development charges for mid-rise as an incentive. Some developers have suggested that mid-rise projects get a break on meeting some city regulations, such as those on replacing rental and employment spaces, or capping community-benefit contributions.
He (Ted Kesik) has a more radical solution: Expand densification deeper into Toronto’s sleepy, leafy, low-rise neighbourhoods. He argues that the city should open up the so-called “yellowbelt” (areas where single-family homes predominate) to allow for fourplexes and other mini-condos to be built. He suggests the return of the so-called Toronto Specials of the 1950s and ‘60s that responded to an earlier wave of immigration would do a lot to let homeowners unlock the value in their land, and create more affordable options for newcomers and new families.
As Mr. Kesik sees it, the only way to truly get mid-rise development in the city is to democratize it by loosening zoning and take some of it out of the hands of developers. “You have to find an area where you can conduct an experiment, an urban planning lab, you relax all the rules, or remove them, and you have to see what happens,” Mr. Kesik said.
https://www.theglobeandmail.com/rea...-wants-mid-rise-housing-but-can-we-afford-it/