R-Hauz Blog

The Laneway: Creating Missing Middle Density In Toronto

By: Leith Moore | April 1, 2020

Discussions in Toronto surrounding solutions to increase the supply of missing middle housing have been intensifying over the past two years. In an ever more expensive market with ever decreasing rental vacancies the low density neighbourhoods known in urban planning circles as the Yellow Belt (quite naturally as the City Zoning Maps for low density neighbourhoods is yellow) have come under scrutiny as a fertile ground for increased “gentle” densification. The need for more rental housing supply is not in question. The challenge – when we come out of our COVID-19 shutdown – is creating cost effective and community supported rental housing in our lower density neighbourhoods. We are participating in the debate but more importantly, we have developed diverse housing options that can make a real and immediate difference.  It’s our mission to deliver homes that are faster, cheaper, smarter and healthier.

R-Hauz has been working with policy makers to propose and encourage civic action. We were members of the Missing Middle Action Lab organized by Evergreen. This resulted in a very well thought out policy implementation by the City of Toronto to its zoning code. An informative municipal resource for all things laneway housing related is City of Toronto Changing Lanes. This work provides the opportunity to create hundreds of new middle housing types per year, in the form of rear lane units, which did not exist as a real as of right alternative a year ago.

More can be done. The Urban Land Institute, through its Curtner Leadership Program has been gathering thought leaders to scope potential solutions within the yellow belt.  And we have been leaning in on this exploration as well. R-Hauz participated in a panel talk about our approach to creating more housing, published on the ULI website.

We think that laneway housing is the first and best solution for creating gentle density solutions in our neighbourhoods. R-Hauz has designed a turnkey laneway suite program, based on structural panel systems, manufactured in an offsite plant and flat packed for delivery to rear lane sites. We have adapted our predesigned plans through 3D BIM modelling to accommodate for all lane lot sizes in an as of right application under the City’s zoning by-law. Assembly of your laneway suite can be completed on site in four weeks.

There is no more cost effective way to increase the supply of housing than by unlocking the potential of a property owner’s existing land and providing them with the ability to self solve their housing needs. No zoning approvals or variances needed. No long lead times for design and approval. No ancillary municipal development fees. No land costs. No six month noisy backyard stick builds. Leveraging new manufacturing technologies for faster – and higher quality – builds that are also cheaper than on site construction approaches is the key to cost effective gentle density on lanes.

The building industry has been stuck in an old methodology, building in the same way for many decades. Change is needed and it is now here! And while the debate around other potential middle density solutions continues – a very viable housing answer is already in our backyards and and on our lanes!

At R-Hauz we love lanes.

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