It is obvious that Toronto needs to find new ways to increase housing supply. And I have written before about how I think our major streets are a good place to look.
The above proposal by Naama Blonder of Smart Density is one way to start thinking about how we could do that. Dubbed the “mini mid-rise”, the idea here was to show how a single lot might be intensified with a small multi-unit building.
This is a great idea. It was one of five projects that just won the Ontario Association of Architects’ annual design challenge. But for it to have a chance at working, we’re going to need to remove all of the friction associated with building this kind of housing.
These would need to be permissible as-of-right. No rezoning. No site plan control. Just straight to building permit.
We would also need to eliminate all parking requirements (which we are thankfully doing). The market will very quickly correct if these homes cannot be rented without parking.
We would need to ensure that these homes can be built without any cooperation from the adjacent neighbors. Because that cooperation may not always be there.
We would need to ensure that there are no funny code requirements that might serve as an additional obstacle.
And we will probably also need to look at subsidies and other incentives so that these homes are economically feasible to build. This might include development charge waivers and/or tax abatements.
None of this is, of course, impossible. It’s just a question of how bad we want this to happen.
Image via Smart Density