A proposed set of zoning changes to guide the scale of new low-rise housing development in the neighbourhoods inside the Greenbelt is now available for comment. Comments received before February 27, 2015 will be considered in the final recommendations by City staff to Planning Committee and City Council this spring.
In response to community concerns about intensive new development changing neighbourhoods, City Council approved an initial package of guidelines for low-rise residential development in the downtown wards in 2012. Known as Infill 1, this package included rules about front yards, location of main entrances, parking and driveways, and generally required that new houses fit the character of the neighbourhood.
Council then approved a second study, now known as Infill 2, that would look at all of the wards inside the Greenbelt and address issues, including the size of new houses, building heights and the requirements for setbacks and rear yards, while exploring opportunities for discreet intensification on larger residential lots. Again, the goal is to allow infill housing development, which is endorsed in the City’s Official Plan, while ensuring the protection of neighbourhood character.
The proposed zoning changes will be before Planning Committee and City Council in the spring.
2015 infill development in neighbourhoods inside the Greenbelt
What is Infill?
Infill is an urban planning term that describes the practice of building on unused or underdeveloped property within an urban boundary. Infill places more residents within a more compact urban area and makes more efficient use of existing infrastructure (roads, sewer and other public services).
What is Infill 1?
In 2011 and 2012, the City consulted with the public on infill. This resulted in a report titled Low-Rise Infill Housing in Mature Neighbourhoods. The report was approved by City Council in 2012.
Infill 1 was about the development of vacant lots or portions of vacant lots in established urban areas. A vacant lot may have been vacant historically, created by a severance, or result from demolition, fire or some other means. Infill makes efficient use of already serviced lands adjacent to existing infrastructure and transportation modes.
There were community concerns about how rapid infill development was changing the appearance and character of older, central neighbourhoods.
Infill 1 created a set of design guidelines to help developers, designers, property owners, utility providers, community groups, builders, City Council and City staff implement policies of the Official Plan and facilitate the approvals process by highlighting the desired type of development. The intent was to have well-designed residential infill projects integrate harmoniously into a local landscape, improving and enriching a neighbourhood, and increasing the value of the infill development itself.
As a result of public feedback, City Council also directed staff to conduct further studies on Infill in the urban area. The result became Infill 2.
What is Infill 2?
Infill 2 is seeking to provide additional clarity on what is permitted when developing a vacant lot within an existing neighbourhood. The project impacts 11 city wards within the Greenbelt. It is specifically trying to address:
- Building height (Reduce the maximum building height in properties designated R1 from 11 metres to 8.5 metres and R2 from 11 metres to 9 metres. In R3 and R4 zones with an 11 metre maximum height reduced to 10 metres for most built forms. Subzones with a current building height of 14.5 metres or 15 metres will be reduced to 13.5 metres.)
- Building mass (Covers building shape and size. In addition to limiting the height, this will also limit any projections coming from a building – balconies, staircases, landings, steps, bay windows and rooftop patios that extend outside of the building.)
- Rear yard setbacks (This will ensure that properties have a rear yard rather than developing as close to the property line as possible. In most cases, the rear yard will be at least equivalent to the height of the building.)
- Side yard setbacks (Ensures access around the sides of the building so access to the rear yard is possible. Rear and side yard setbacks combined will limit the footprint of a building, particularly on a large lot.)
As part of Infill 2, the City has conducted ongoing consultations:
- Spring 2013 – surveyed City Council, community associations, development industry
- Summer 2013 – held public workshops
- Summer 2013 – conducted field analysis of more than 150 infill developments
- Fall 2013 – held public information sessions to present proposed zoning changes
- Winter – spring 2014 – held design charettes to test the proposed zoning changes with stakeholders
- Winter 2015 – circulated study recommendations to City Council, community associations and development industry
- Winter 2015 (current) – consultation with public and stakeholders as per Planning Act requirements on proposed zoning changes
- Spring 2015 – submit report, with a recommended zoning by-law amendment, to Planning Committee and City Council for approval.