The R4 Zoning Review began in January 2016 in response to the continued development of buildings in the inner-urban area containing unreasonably large dwelling units that operated as unlicensed rooming houses, commonly known as bunkhouses.
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The project is proceeding in two phases.
R4 Phase 1 concluded in June 2018 with a series of zoning amendments that closed zoning loopholes and clarified definitions. As a result of these zoning changes, further bunkhouse development is now illegal city-wide.
Although the R4 Phase 1 Zoning By-law amendments have only been in place for under a year, early findings are indicating that the amendments have been successful. These findings include:
• A shift in industry behaviour away from the problematic multi-bedroom model;
• An improvement in designs submitted to the City, resulting in submissions that now “look” more like proper residential buildings both in floor layout and exterior design;
• More reasonable, site-specific variances that are more in line with the intent of the Zoning By-law amendments; and
• No demand for oversized dwelling units.
Phase 1 amendments were introduced to address four specific goals:
- Clarify the distinction between a rooming house and a dwelling unit, to ensure consistency in permitting and by-law enforcement.
The term “household” was introduced to the By-law to describe a dwelling unit to
distinguish it from a rooming house.
- Prohibit further development of dwelling units with unreasonably large bedroom counts in multi-unit dwellings.
The term “dwelling unit” was redefined to limit the number of bedrooms to four in
- Appropriately balance the rare need for oversized dwelling units (ODUs) (i.e. for statistically unusual households) against the need to effectively plan for and regulate density.
A new category of “oversized dwelling units” was created to allow for dwelling
units of up to eight bedrooms, but only in a detached dwelling. In addition, the
definition of ‘detached dwelling’ was amended to mean a residential-use building
that contains only one principal dwelling unit or oversized dwelling unit.
- Ensure that large residential buildings provide adequate space to store and manage garbage and recyclables.
New requirements were introduced to ensure that when any building, over the
400-square metre size threshold is constructed, it retains the physical ability to
move garbage from the rear yard to the street.
R4 Phase 2 will address the broader housing pressures as well as the misaligned zoning regulations and approvals procedures that discourage more appropriate and compatible low-rise multi-unit housing in the R4 family of zones. Such housing is supported by the Official Plan and would meet demand for a “missing middle” range of quality, affordable mid-density infill housing suited to a wide range of households, tenures and incomes.