Garden Suites Permitted in the City of Toronto

/ 02.8.2022

Toronto City Council has adopted new policies and zoning requirements to allow garden suites to be built on properties in most residential zones across the City.

TRREB Position

TRREB supported these changes and provided input on this issue to the City while the policy was in development. TRREB believes that increasing the supply of housing available for sale and rent, especially mid-density housing types, is critical to addressing housing affordability challenges in the Greater Toronto Area. View TRREB’s input to the City.


A garden suite is a housing unit usually located in the backyard of an existing house, but separate and detached from the main house. Garden suites are generally smaller than the main house on the lot, and are often a way to create homes for family members – parents, grandparents or adult children – or can be used as rental housing units.

As part of the City’s adopted regulations for garden suites, issues related to privacy, shadowing, parking requirements, protecting trees and green spaces, separation distance with main house, and maximum permitted height are addressed. City staff gathered input from the public and industry stakeholders about how to best allow the construction of garden suites in Toronto while considering these important matters. Read the Garden Suites report, adopted by City Council.

Prior to Council’s adoption of this report, secondary suites were permitted city-wide within a detached house, semi-detached house, or rowhouse. However, only properties next to a public lane allowed an additional residential unit within an ancillary building, known as a laneway suite. The Official Plan and Zoning Bylaw amendments for garden suites allow for the construction of an additional residential unit on residential properties that are not located on a public lane.

The introduction of garden suites adds a new form of housing to the range of housing permitted across Toronto’s neighbourhoods. To address Toronto’s housing needs, it is critical to increase both the variety and type of housing options to meet the requirements of people of different ages and incomes, for people to be able to move freely within their current neighbourhood to support generational housing turnover, and for new residents to more easily find a home.

The Garden Suites project is one of several initiatives led by the City through its Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods (EHON) initiative, which TRREB has supported and encouraged. The EHON initiative is working to facilitate more low-rise housing in residential neighbourhoods to meet the needs of our growing city. The City continues to expand housing forms in Toronto, ranging from laneway and garden suites to duplexes, triplexes, and low-rise walk-up apartments.