Toronto Zoning Reform to Empower Apartment Neighbourhoods

As part of ongoing work on Tower Neighbourhood Renewal, the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal (CUG+R) has been working with partners United Way Toronto and the City of Toronto to establish a new approach to zoning that will enable Toronto’s hundreds of Apartment Neighbourhoods to emerge as more complete and better-served communities.

This work has recently taken a significant step forward, as Toronto’s Planning and Growth Management Committee has endorsed a new zoning category: the “Apartment Residential Commercial” Zone (RAC), developed by the City of Toronto’s Zoning Division in partnership with CUG+R and United Way Toronto this past summer.

In May, 2012, a position paper entitled “Strong Neighbourhoods and Complete Communities: A New Approach to Zoning for Apartment Neighbourhoods” was presented to the Planning and Growth Management Committee, resulting in a motion for the City of Toronto to work with United Way Toronto and CUG+R to develop an initial approach to zoning reform. The new RAC zone supports as-of-right low-impact mixed uses within Apartment Neighbourhoods, such uses as small shops, farmers markets, small-scale institutions, and community services, which are common in many traditional Toronto neighbourhoods yet have been prohibited in most Apartment Neighbourhoods to date. As demonstrated in the recently published report “Toward Healthier Apartment Neighbourhoods” (Toronto Public Health, CUG+R), the absence of these features in Toronto’s Apartment Neighbourhoods is negatively affecting community health.

The endorsement of the RAC zoning category is an important first step for a new policy framework for healthier and better-served Apartment Neighbourhoods. In the coming months the zone will be further refined, and the Apartment Neighbourhoods to which it will apply will be selected through city-wide analysis and  input from community stakeholders.

This process of zoning reform coincides with the United Way Toronto’s commitment to direct investment in several demonstration sites across the City as part of their Strong Neighbourhoods Strategy. Working with community partners, this initiative will build capacity among local social innovators and entrepreneurs for real and sustained positive change in Apartment Neighbourhoods.

We commend the City of Toronto and United Way Toronto for their ongoing work and look forward to continuing our partnership moving forward.

Look for more news regarding Apartment Tower zoning and community reinvestment in early 2013.

By: Josh Thorpe | Date: 10-15-2012