Last week, Toronto City Council voted 20-3 to approve Mayor John Tory’s motion to expand “missing middle” housing options in areas designated as Neighbourhoods in Toronto’s Official Plan. These neighbourhoods coloured yellow in the City’s land use plan map are known as the “Yellowbelt”, mainly zoned for single and semi-detached housing since the 1960’s, accounting for approximately 70% of the city’s residential area. The motion directs City Planning staff to report back on options and a timeline to the Planning and Housing Committee in the fourth quarter of 2019. Mostly, the Yellowbelt consists of neighbourhoods outside the Metro Toronto: Scarborough, North York, East York and Etobicoke.
With this motion, seconded by Councillors Ana Bailao and Brad Bradford, Toronto is now looking to modernize its planning regulations, zoning and land use to allow gentle densification in established neighbourhoods. Along with other on-going programs like Housing Now Initiative, HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan and the Laneway Suites initiative, this signals that the City recognizes the need to look for all options available across the entire city to increase the housing supply in order to respond to the current affordability crisis.
“Missing Middle” refers to housing types that are in between detached/semi-detached houses and high rise apartment buildings and which have largely ‘gone missing’ from new construction over the past few decades. Primarily this consists of small apartment buildings (under five stories) but also includes things like laneway suites and residential units above commercial businesses.
City Planning staff have been directed to report back to the Planning and Housing Committee before the end of this year on options and a time frame on moving ahead with this important initiative. After many years of trying with limited success to rationalize the City’s arcane zoning laws, let’s hope that, this time, we will see real change in a timely fashion.
For more information on the “Missing Middle”, click on this link.