Gentle density was the name of the game this week in Toronto City Hall. On Thursday, Toronto City Council voted to permit more townhouses and six-storey residential buildings on major streets in residential areas. The Major Streets plan was approved by the City earlier this month and aims to change existing zoning bylaws to allow for this type of density creation.

Prior to this change, townhomes and small residential buildings were only allowed in specific areas throughout the ever-changing city. The City voted 21-3 to support the creation of these structures on specific major Toronto roads — without having to apply for rezoning applications. These apartment buildings may include up to 60 units.The move is said to open up space on some 31,000 lots throughout the city.

“In recent years, the city’s housing growth has largely been in mid-rise and highrise buildings concentrated in densely populated areas like the Downtown, Centres, and Avenues, while the supply of low-rise housing, such as townhouses and small-scale apartment buildings, has not kept up with demand,” reads the Major Streets report.

City Council requested staff also create rent-controlled affordable rentals and affordable ownership homes on the lots as part of the move.

Toronto skylineToronto skyline/Shutterstock

Pre-vote, the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) issued a statement in support of the changes.

"The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) is leading the way in calling for more as-of-right zoning in our City," reads the statement. "This approach encourages more gentle density in existing communities and makes it easier for developers to build family-friendly homes. The proposal before City Council will upzone major streets, put more homes closer to transit, and enable builders to create more multi-family housing."

The end result is a full range of housing options for Torontonians. "By expanding permissions for this type of housing across the city, additional housing can be developed to expand the range of ground-related/low-rise housing options to support those who cannot afford a detached or semi-detached home, but who will contribute to the stability of neighbourhoods and benefit from the access to these stable environments in support of families and young Torontonians that want to set down roots across the city," reads the report.

The proposal comes just a year after the official legalization of multiplexes that house up to four units. Other recent examples of gentle density initiatives include the legalization of garden suites and laneway suites.