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Zoning Reform Ideas

Not quite zoning, but mass-timber highrises up to 18 stories are coming to Ontario:

High-rise wood: Building code to permit 18-storey wood buildings​

In the midst of a housing crisis, province says building higher with wood is a faster, quieter and more environmentally friendly way to build
Northern Ontario Business Staff
Ontario’s forest products industry is welcoming the government’s move to allow mass timber buildings to reach greater heights.

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said it will be amending Ontario’s Building Code in the coming months to permit for construction of these buildings to be upsized from its current 12 storeys to 18.
 
Just doing some light googling of this out of curiousity, and the tallest mass timber building in the world (at least a year or two ago) is an 18 storey building in Norway, which is also the third tallest building in the entire country!


Edit to add a more up to date list of tall timber buildings:

 
Any idea when the official plan and bylaw amendments for EHON Major Streets will be brought to committee? The last report said sometime early 2024, and we are appraoching mid-2024.
 
Interesting. Is the above an improvement over what exists today?

I have to admit: I’m surprised at the two terraces at the front. Also, if the lot butts up against low-rise houses behind, will terracing be required there too? I assume so?

EDITS:

This is the city’s page for the above: https://www.toronto.ca/city-governm...ing-action-plan-avenues-mixed-use-area-study/

There is also a report there on changing the rear transition to neighborhoods. I haven’t read it yet.
 
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Interesting. Is the above an improvement over what exists today?

Yes, because it applies existing 'Avenue' permissions where the zoning hasn't yet been updated; and it would also implement that permission in other areas where no Avenue Study has yet been conducted.

I have to admit: I’m surprised at the two terraces at the front. Also, if the lot butts up against low-rise houses behind, will terracing be required there too? I assume so?

We've covered this............ stepbacks are essential to mitigating miserable conditions at street level.

What the City has done here (proposed) is to require fewer of them, and generally at greater heights.

City's default, on paper is to require strict adherence to the angular plane, in practice this has already been relaxed, this would bring the on-paper policy inline with practice.
 
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Thank you for the answers and clarifications @Northern Light.

It sounds like this is a combination of:

1. Relaxed conditions
2. Aligning on-paper policies with in-practice ones
3. Normalizing the above rules city-wide

I’m a fan. Anything that simplifies and standardizes is appreciated.

Yes, (for the top 3) with a caveat.

The City hasn't exactly standardized in how to deal w/setbacks.

Its become more flexible. But being Toronto's bureaucracy, they've defined all the new options in detail.

I'd have to look it up to get the exact numbers, (which I'm not) so don't take these as 'gospel', but in essence, where there might have been 3 acceptable ways to meet the angular plane before, you will now have six or more.

I think, frankly, it would be sufficient to explain what the goal is (privacy, transition, wind or shadow mitigation) then let the builder establish that they've met the guidance. But, I get it, they want to give builders an idea of what they are open to approving and give staff easy 'does it look like this' examples to inform a 'yes'.

So before, at the rear of a building, the guidance might have been to build the step ladder/pyramid to meet the angular plane, now the guidance will show fewer stepbacks, at varying heights depending on the building/lot/area characteristics.

****

The non-standard component is that there is actually greater flexibility in this model, including greater discretion to the City Planner to exercise their judgement on how to balance competing goals.

* I need to note that flexibility is not limited to this policy but intertwined with ways to cope with timeline mandates on all types of planning applications.
 
An interesting feature of Halifax’s zoning reform that is working its way through council is 8 units/lot in large core areas plus very high density for housing on college/ university campuses including parking lots. Seems like a sensible compromise for the short to medium term.
 
One of the standout features of the new Villiers Island Plan is the use of ‘Meanwhile Uses’ zoning. This would have a transformative effect on development of the district that addresses empty land as having either full development or parking lot potential with nothing in between. This could also be introduced elsewhere.
 

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