/Changing Lanes: The City of Toronto’s Review of Laneway Suites

Changing Lanes: The City of Toronto’s Review of Laneway Suites

What is a Laneway Suite?

Laneway suites are housing units situated on the same lot as a detached house, semi-detached house, or townhouse, but completely detached from the main house. They are generally located in the rear yard abutting a laneway and are smaller in scale than the main house on the lot.

The City’s Review of Laneway Suites

A small number of laneway suites already exist within Toronto, however the City’s current policies, application requirements, costs, and many technical factors, limit the opportunity to construct laneway houses. The Changing Lanes study is reviewing the potential technical, policy, and process limitations, and will consider a streamlined strategy to permit laneway suites that are appropriately scaled, have adequate amenity space, maintain existing greenspace and character of their neighbourhood, and contribute to the city’s rental housing stock.

Rationale: Permitting laneway suites more broadly within the City may provide more rental housing opportunities within the City’s established, low-scale neighbourhoods, and provide owners of suitable properties with a rental income source.


On July 4, 2017, City Council directed the City Planning Division, in consultation with a number of City Divisions, to study the potential to permit laneway suites within Toronto and East York District, consult with the community, and report on a potential implementation strategy in 2018.   Council’s motion can be found here: 




Meeting 1: Thursday, November 30, 2017 – Public Meeting 

The City’s laneway suites study, called Changing Lanes gets underway with a public consultation meeting on Thursday, November 30, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in the Council Chamber at Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West. 

Purpose: An informational meeting intended to introduce the idea of laneway suites, communicate the scope the City’s review process and for the City Planning and project staff to receive initial thoughts/comments on laneway suites in Toronto and on this emerging initiative. 

A notice with details of the public meeting appeared in Now Magazine and Metroland media +  Public Changing Lanes – Laneway Suites Meeting Nov 30 2017 Notice



Meeting 2:  Saturday, February 24, 2018 – Residents’ Associations and Community Groups Meeting 

City Planning staff presented background of their work on the Changing Lanes (Laneway Housing) initiative to representatives from Residents’ Associations from across the Toronto and East York area and shared a set of draft guidelines for discussion and comment. [ Changing Lanes RA Meeting invitation February 24 2018 ]


Meeting 3:  Thursday, March 29, 2018 – Community Meeting , Metro Toronto Convention Centre.  

The meeting was attended by over 200 people who provided comments on the City’s Draft Laneway Suites Guidelines and Zoning By-law standards. At the meeting, City Planning staff presented a background of our work on the Changing Lanes initiative and shared a set of draft guidelines and By-law provisions intended to guide the form, scale, and location of laneway suites for discussion and comment.  We also discussed implementation, monitoring, and next steps.

 Meeting Materials

For the City’s presentation of the Changing Lanes Guidelines and By-law standards please view Changing Lanes CCM March 29 2018 FR

Please note that these zoning provisions and guidelines are still in draft. They will continue to develop as we consider your comments and questions, including those from our recent meeting.

These materials will be posted on the City’s website, www.toronto.ca/changinglanes 

Meeting Discussion

The meeting included an open house component and a question and answer period.

The following is brief summary of some of the questions and comments raised at the meeting:  

– The comments received at the meeting were generally supportive of the initiative. Some concerns regarding neighbourhood stability were expressed.

–  The requirements for emergency access, specifically the provision of a 1 metre side-yard, were noted as being too restrictive, and difficult to accommodate on many sites.

–  A range of opinions on the proposed scale and form of laneway suites was expressed. Some requested that a 3rd storey be considered. Privacy and overlook into adjacent yards was also noted as a concern.  

–  It was requested that the City permit basements within laneway suites.

–  It was requested that allowances for mechanical equipment, similar to what is currently permitted for the main house, also be permitted for laneway suites.

–  It was requested that the city consider laneway suites and other forms of auxiliary dwellings within Scarborough, Etobicoke and North York.

– The limited control over exterior building materials was raised as a concerns.

– Concerns were raised about the varied condition of laneways and the City’s maintenance approach.

–  It was suggested that laneway suites could help activate laneways, making them safer, more inviting, and better used.

–  Questions and concerns regarding MPAC assessments, servicing capacity, affordability and short term rentals were also raised at the meeting.


Next Steps

City Planning Staff are currently preparing a report for the May 2nd meeting of Toronto and East York Community Council with recommendations regarding Laneway Suites.  The report will be available at the following link once the agenda is published: 


For All City of Toronto homeowners

  • DO YOU HAVE AN OPINION ON LANEWAY HOUSING, the City’s process, their presentations and draft guidelines? 

Make your views known before these changes are considered by City Council.



 Graig Uens, MCIP, RPP   Senior Planner, Community Planning     

100 Queen Street W.

18th floor (East Tower)

M5H 2N2




Seaton village Residents’ Association        email: seatonvillagetoronto@gmail.com