Council Update - February 2022

Council approved an important report this week allowing small secondary homes, known as garden suites, on residential properties. These homes, with a maximum floorplate of 60m and a maximum height of 6m, would be located in the backyard of an existing house but detached from it. Toronto, like other Ontario municipalities, was required to allow garden suites under changes made to the provincial Planning Act; the details of how to go about it was left largely to local governments.

It is a change John welcomed, seeing it as an opportunity to create additional living space for family members - parents, grandparents or adult children - who would like to live independent from, but close to, other family members. The units can also be rented out but short-term rentals such as Airbnb should effectively be ruled out by the the City's bylaw. Issues related to privacy, shadowing, parking requirements, and protecting trees and green spaces are also addressed in the report adopted by Council.

This change is part of a series of likely zoning changes being looked at by Toronto to provide more housing options. John will be writing more about this in an upcoming newsletter.

136 other matters were addressed at City Council this week, including:

  • Approving an initial set of actions under SafeTO, the City's 10-year Community Safety and Well-Being plan. These actions will include implementing an alternative crisis support service model that is community led and focussed on reducing harm. Toronto will establish an office to prevent gun violence through engagement with community partners, and will provide better support for victims and communities impacted by violence through the Community Crisis Response Program. An investment of $12 million will be made in the first year of the program.

  • Adding 25 new Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) cameras, increasing the number across the City to 75. John's request to immediately begin a process to include Senior Safety Zones in the list of eligible ASE locations also passed, which would make much of Yonge Street, Doris Avenue and Beecroft Road eligible for additional speed enforcement.

  • Approving the extension of the Downtown and Residential Electric Vehicle Charging Station pilots. Access to public electric vehicle charging, including on-street charging opportunities, is critical for the transition to electric vehicles that is required to meet Toronto's goal of reaching net zero emissions by 2040. Staff will continue to monitor the success of integrating these stations into City streetscapes through May 2022, with the intention of launching a city-wide rollout in 2023.

  • Adopting a new Golf Course operating model, enhancing complementary uses and public access while expanding and improving golf programming. The City will seek a single operator to manage pro shops and food and beverage service while overseeing maintenance and green fees at five City-run courses. Additional work will be done in coming years to develop more complimentary programming and seeking to improve trail connections through these public courses.

  • Adopting a motion brought forward by John and Councillor Mike Colle calling on the Province of Ontario to implement a Land Speculation Tax or Flipping Tax to address increases in home prices. According to Taranet, "investment" properties now account for 25% of all property sales in Toronto, up from 16% in 2011. In the early 1970s, Ontario implemented a 50% Land Speculation Tax on people buying and selling homes that were not their principal residence, slowing the extreme increase in property values at the time.