Homeowners in Toronto may soon be able to build a second home in their backyard known as a garden suite.
A garden suite is a detached housing unit with a kitchen and bathroom, usually located in the rear yard, and is separate or detached from the main house.
Similar to laneway housing, which was adopted city-wide in 2019, it is generally smaller than the main house on the lot and intended to function as a rental income property or for use by the family who owns the original home as, for example, housing for children leaving the nest or grandparents returning to the nest. A garden suite cannot be turned into a separate property from the main house and must be serviced with water, sewer and other utilities through a connection to the main house or the street.
But unlike a laneway suite, a garden suite is not located next to a public lane. Rather, the garden suite may be next to other yards, a flanking street, a private lane, a park or open space, or other uses.
A garden suite must be at least five metres away from the main dwelling and no more than 45 metres from the street. Additionally, it cannot cover more than 40 per cent of the rear yard area. These criteria, among others, are meant to prevent shadowing, ensure emergency services can access the unit, and protect green space and privacy.
The City of Toronto‘s planning and housing committee is currently considering staff recommendations to permit garden suites.
The new bylaw will likely go to city council for approval in February.