Multiplexes can now be built in all neighbourhoods, meaning duplexes, triplexes and fourplexes can be built, without special permissions, in all neighbourhoods from Rosedale to Westmount that are currently dominated by detached and semi-detached houses across Toronto after approval from the city council Wednesday, a move intended to increase low-rise housing options in existing communities.
This controversial move to expand as-of-right permissions for multi-unit residences is a centrepiece of the city’s housing action plan to meet a target set by Premier Doug Ford’s provincial government of adding 285,000 homes by 2031. Previously, 70 per cent of Toronto’s residential areas only permitted single detached homes with zoning amendments and additional approvals required if another form of housing was proposed.
The plan to remove the exclusionary zoning policy has faced significant opposition from many residents’ associations who argue that the changes could have negative consequences, including increased traffic, lack of parking options and a loss of trees. Some organizations, including the Federation of North Toronto Residents’ Associations, representing 30 neighbourhood groups, called on the city to defer the decision until a new mayor is elected next month. They also said it would be better to pilot the plan in select communities rather than make a widespread rollout in order to monitor and make adjustments if issues arise.
The new framework, allows new multiplexes to be built up to 10 metres high, or three storeys, as long as the design keeps with an area’s existing “physical features.” In areas where taller buildings are already allowed, four-storey multiplexes may be possible, the new rules say — and where the lot is large enough, the rules allow a multiplex abutting a garden or laneway suite. That would total five residential units on larger lots.
City staff are also expected to advance further policy changes in the coming years to boost density, starting with a final set of recommendations on allowing four- to six-storey walk-up apartments on major streets in residential areas, which staff expect to release later in 2023.
Toronto will launch a monitoring program to track the uptake and distribution of multiplexes across the city, as well as document concerns or barriers that arise, including impact on parking and trees. A report is scheduled to come back to council by early 2026 or sooner if 200 multiplex building permits have been received by the city.