Garden Suites By-law Passed. What is next?

On February 2, 2022, the City of Toronto passed legislation that allows Garden Suites on almost all residential lots in the city.  Not just single detached, semi-detached and townhouse lots – but duplex, triplex, fourplex & low-rise apartment properties. 

The NRRA has been informed that an appeal has been filed against the Garden Suites zoning by-law by other Residents’ Associations and CORRA due to the City’s over-reach. The Provincial government only instructed the City to draft regulations to allow for “gentle intensification” on lots with single detached, semi-detached and townhouses; but the City took the liberty to go farther with the inclusion of duplex, triplex, fourplex & low-rise apartment properties. 

While North Rosedale’s experience with Garden Suites has been positive, it is important to ensure our membership is aware of the City’s additional inclusion of both fourplex and low-rise apartments properties. These were not requested by the Province but inserted by the City. While we all understand that even single family areas such as ours must support “gentle intensification,” we want to make certain the specific needs of all types of neighbourhoods are considered. 


The Garden Suite by-law change affects all residential lots in the city.  There are over 500,000 lots and the by-law allows two dwellings per lot, with the potential for up to five apartment units on some properties. A Garden Suite can be up to 1,900 square feet, two storeys, with a basement. Gardens suites, like secondary dwelling units are considered “as of right”  which means you do not have to go through the additional process of site plan approval or request zoning changes to allow you to apply for a building permit.  But you are still required to meet all of the zoning requirements for the entire property and will still be sent to Committee of Adjustment (CofA) if your proposal does not.  It is only at CofA that your neighbours will have the right to object to your proposal. TLAB is the route after losing at COFA to appeal the decision.

The City’s goal is to cut red-tape for homeowners, developers, and speculators – but not everyone agrees that the needs of homeowners and tenants are being protected in this new zoning by-law. 

What are the problems? 

  • “One size fits all” regulations or zoning without any recognition of differences between neighbourhoods.
  • Re-zoning by-law passed by City Council with no notification to over 500,00 affected homeowners and limited input from residents. 
  • The City extending Garden Suite zoning beyond province’s request to duplex, triplex, fourplex & low-rise apartment properties.
  • “As-of-right-“suites – Providing liberty to build more easily, but with variances still being subjected to CoA.
  • Concern that a “one size fits all” regulations may favour developers, investors, and speculators increasing competition with home buyers.
  • Potential misconception that Garden Suites are or will be “affordable housing” – but most rent is driven by market rates.
  • Ignoring other municipalities’ experiences – Barrie has had to move to reverse some of their zoning surrounding Garden Suites.

What are CORRA/FONTRA/TO Residents organizations asking the City to reconsider? 

  • Smaller Garden Suites and no basements.
  • Rules based on density that protects the environment.
  • Strong protection for trees, tree canopies and green spaces.
  • City to send a plain language explanation bulletin to Toronto homeowners.
  • Change regulations to respond to needs of tenants and homeowners versus developers and speculators.

Resident’s associations across Toronto believe homeowners need to know what this re-zoning means to their quality of life, the character of their neighbourhoods, and the value of their properties.

So, if you feel the city has over-reached and should reconsider this new “one size fits all” by-law please send a letter to the Mayor’s and City Councillor’s office by clicking on the below link to reach their letter of protest.  

Please note the NRRA has crafted a letter that is available in another blog on our website.