We knew it was coming. But it’s important and worth mentioning again. This week, Toronto City Council adopted new Zoning Bylaw Amendments that will remove most parking minimums across the city. We now join many other cities across North America who have done similar things in order to try and encourage more sustainable forms of mobility.
If you’d like to take a spin through the draft amendments, you’ll find them linked here. I haven’t gone through them in detail, but I did do a word search for “maximum” given that this week’s adoption represents a pretty clear change in perspective. Here’s an excerpt from the staff recommendation report that speaks to what I’m talking about:
Recognizing these challenges, this review of the parking standards in the city-wide
Zoning By-law 569-2013 was guided by the principle that parking standards should
allow only the maximum amount of automobile parking reasonably required for a given
use and minimums should be avoided except where necessary to ensure equitable
access. The previous review, which began in 2005, was guided by the principle that the
zoning standards should require the minimum responsible amount of parking for a given
land use. This is inconsistent with Official Plan policies which discourage auto
One other thing I found in the documents that went to Council was this map of parking spot selling prices in active high-rise developments across the city. Not surprisingly, downtown and midtown are showing the highest prices per parking space. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of all of these dots, but it looks directionally right and I can tell you that at least one of them is correct.
All of us in the industry know how much parking drives decision making. There’s a joke (half-joke) that when you’re designing a building, first you lay out the parking and then you design all of the residential suites around that structural grid. That’s not the way things should be done. The future of this city should not and cannot be centered around the car. This week’s adoption is in service of that.
Will the millions in savings that developers save from not having to build parking lower the cost of condos? Having worked in the real estate industry for 40 years I do have my doubts. Only the market will dictate and it would take one developer to do this. There is too much greed in the industry where housing is not a right for everyone.
What about parking/access for the handicapped? Could this become an issue in the event of a buyer or renter being unable to have a spot? Could someone be incented to get a handicap pass to secure one of the limited parking stalls?
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I recall at least forty years ago the city surveying just how many unused parking spots had been built and discussing at the time if the requirements should be lowered. I am not sure if between then and now they were ever adjusted. That is not a joke about laying out parking first and then living units to fit on top it is the reality. In all the numerous buildings I did if we could not get the most efficient parking grid to align with the best residential layout we had to go to great expense to create a transfer layer of beams and/or a very thick ($$$$) slab in between the two
Part of what this will do is reduce the need to keep going deeper and deeper to get the required parking on the site. Everyone knows that the deeper you go the more expensive the cost of each parking spot is.