What Is A Laneway Suite?
A laneway suite is a self-contained house on the same lot as a detached house, semi-detached house or townhouse, generally located on in the rear yard abutting a laneway. They are subordinate in scale, completely detached from the main house, and have have outdoor access via both the side yard of the main house, and the lane. The City of Toronto launched a pilot project for laneway suites in 2018 and it became part of the City’s Official Plan and zoning bylaws in 2022.
Laneway suites provide new rental housing opportunities within established neighbourhoods, contributing to a wider range of housing options for tenants and a consistent income for landlords.
The City offers two programs to encourage the building of laneway suites, a form of gentle density. The ‘Affordable Laneway Suites Program’ provides funding in the form of a forgivable loan of up to $50,000 for eligible property owners developing a laneway suite when market rate is charged. The ‘Development Charges Deferral Program for Ancillary Secondary Dwelling Units’ defers the collection of development charges for 20 years.
Garden suites are very similar to laneway suites. The main difference between the two types is that laneway suits are adjacent to a public lane, whereas garden suites are not. The City legalized garden suites in 2022.
With as-of-right zoning permissions passed in 2023, approval for both laneway and garden suites will be more expeditious, as owners will only be required to obtain a building permit, rather than going through the lengthy process of official plan amendments or zoning by-law approvals.
History of Lanes
Toronto’s laneways date back to the 1870’s when they were used for a variety of purposes, including staff quarters, blacksmiths and much later, garages. In the early 19th century, some properties had coach houses which were used as horse stables with sleeping quarters for staff above. Utilitarian in nature, with form following function. Today there are over 3,000 laneways in Toronto. Some of the City’s interesting people and historical events have been commemorated by naming lanes after them.