Garden Suites

Garden suites are the practical solution for homeowners that are faced with the challenges of today's housing market. Located at the back of the primary residence, garden suites are designed with the intention of offering a cost-effective solution to today’s shortage of affordable housing in accordance with bill 23 introduced by the Ontario Provincial Government. Garden suites are a completely separate residence located at the back of the primary residence and are designed to seamlessly blend into the surrounding residential neighborhoods. These independent living spaces provide a practical solution for homeowners facing the challenges of a competitive housing market. With a modest footprint, garden suites offer a cost-effective opportunity to address the shortage of affordable housing, while preserving the unique character and charm of established communities.

They are ideal for accommodating loved ones, generating rental income, or creating additional live-work space while increasing the value and flexibility of your property. In addition, garden suites can serve as excellent workspaces for the growing number of full-time remote workers and provide a separate and peaceful environment to focus on tasks without the distractions of a busy household
SetBacks & Separations
Rear Yard Setback:
Typically, the garden suite must adhere to a minimum setback of 1.5m from the rear lot line. However, the bylaw outlines some specific conditions, such as:
1. For lots with a depth greater than 45.0 metres, the rear yard setback is determined by the greater of half the height of the garden suite or 1.5m.
2. For through lots with residences fronting onto the street at the rear lot line, the garden suite must meet the same setback requirements as those residences.
If the garden suite's ancillary building has rear street access to a parking space, the setback must be at least 6m.
3. The goal of the bylaw is to ensure that the garden suite is setback at least 1.5m from the rear lot line, minimizing any impact on neighboring lots. The bylaw also takes into account through lots and ensures that garden suites do not negatively affect the existing street face in those circumstances.
Side Yard Setbacks:
The bylaw specifies that where a garden suite does not have windows or doors on a side wall, the side yard setback should be equivalent to 10% of the lot frontage, ranging from a minimum of 0.6m to a maximum of 3.0m. However, if there are openings on a side wall, the minimum setback increases from 0.6m to 1.5m.

There are two additional specific conditions to consider:
1. For corner lots, the minimum side yard setback is the greater value between 1.5m and the required minimum side yard setback for the residential building on the lot.
If the garden suite on a corner lot with a parking space accessed from the side street, the minimum setback is 6m
2 .It is worth noting that even if the 10% allocation is less than the 0.6m minimum setback or greater than the 3.0m maximum setback, the minimum setback requirement will still apply.
Building Separation

Similar to the bylaw governing laneway suites, the building code for garden suites stipulates a mandatory separation distance between the primary residence and the secondary dwelling. For structures that measure 4.0m or less in height, the minimum required distance is 5.0m. If the garden suite exceeds 4.0m in height, the minimum separation distance is increased to 7.5m.

Garden Suite Programs


laneway and garden suite initiatives, the City of Toronto has introduced two programs to incentivize eligible property owners. The first is the Development Charges (DC) Deferral Program for Ancillary Secondary Dwelling Units, which enables eligible property owners developing a secondary dwelling unit at the rear of their property to defer DC payments. Meanwhile, the Affordable Laneway and Garden Suite Program offers financial assistance in the form of a forgivable loan of up to $50,000 to eligible property owners constructing a laneway or garden suite. The loan will be forgiven 15 years after the first tenant occupies the unit, provided that the rent charged does not exceed the City of Toronto's Average Market Rent by bedroom type during the 15-year affordability period.

Firefighting Access
Emergency access is a crucial consideration for any garden suite development. The City of Toronto mandates that emergency services must have access to the proposed garden suite from the street that the existing house faces. Additionally, the travel distance from the public street to the entrance of the garden suite cannot exceed Toronto Fire Services requirements for fire fighting access.

To meet these requirements, firefighting access must be provided with a maximum travel distance of 45 meters from a public street to the entrance of the garden suite. This distance is measured where the fire apparatus is within 45 meters of a fire hydrant. The access must also have a minimum width of 1.0 meter and a 2.1 meter vertical clearance from the fronting public street. The minimum width must be unobstructed, except for localized protrusions like hydro and gas meters that are only allowed to occupy the path of travel width. These regulations are in place to ensure that emergency services can respond quickly and effectively to any emergency situations that may arise.