City Council has directed City Planning to report on options and a timeline to increase housing options and planning permissions in areas of Toronto designated as Neighbourhoods in the Official Plan. As part of the same motion, City Council has asked City Planning to explore opportunities for a Missing Middle pilot area in Ward 19, Beaches-East York, in consultation with the local Councillor. City Planning is conducting preliminary consultation with registered community associations and the Toronto Planning Review Panel.

Areas designated Neighbourhoods are coloured yellow on Toronto’s land use map and are sometimes referred to as the “Yellowbelt.” Designated Neighbourhoods make up over 35% of Toronto’s total land area. The “Missing Middle” refers to housing forms that range from duplexes to low-rise walk-up apartments, all of which can be found in many parts of Toronto today, but which are also limited in where they can be located.

Missing Middle housing forms are one solution among a range of City initiatives to increase housing choice and access and create a more equitable, sustainable city.

The Official Plan and Zoning By-law work together to implement the City’s vision for future land use and development:

  • Official Plan land use designations establish the City’s general growth management policies, describing where housing can be built, where stores, offices and industry can locate and where a mix of uses is desired.
  • The Zoning By-law is the legal tool that implements policies of the Official Plan, establishing regulations for how land can be used, what types of buildings and structures can be built, as well as standards related to the location of buildings and structures, lot sizes and dimensions, parking requirements, building heights, and setbacks from property lines.

The following graphics show how much of the City of Toronto’s total area is in each Official Plan land use designation and Zoning By-law zone category. One square represents one percent of the City of Toronto’s area.

City of Toronto Official Plan Land Use Designations - 2.3% Utility Corridors, 0.7% regeneration areas, 3.6% other open space areas, 1% institutional areas, 5.2% mixed use areas, 19.7% lands not subject to official plan land use designation, 9.6% core employment areas, 3.3% general employment areas, 4.7% parks, 11.1% natural areas, 3.5% apartment neighbourhoods, 35.4% neighbourhoods.
Image 1 – Source: City of Toronto, City Planning Division: Official Plan, February 2019


Official Plan – Land Use Designation Area (square kilometres) Percentage of City of Toronto Land Area
Neighbourhoods 224.5 35.4%
Apartment Neighbourhoods 22.0 3.5%
Natural Areas 70.6 11.1%
Parks 29.7 4.7%
Other Open Space Areas (including Golf Courses, Cemeteries, Public Utilities) 22.6 3.6%
Utility Corridors 14.5 2.3%
Mixed Use Areas 32.9 5.2%
Core Employment Areas 60.7 9.6%
General Employment Areas 21.2 3.3%
Regeneration Areas 4.3 0.7%
Institutional Areas 6.1 1.0%
Special Study Areas 0.1 0.0%
Lands not subject to Official Plan Land Use Designation (e.g. roads) 125.0 19.7%
Total City of Toronto Land Area 634.0 100.0%



City of toronto - zoning by law zone categories. 15.7% employment industrial, 20.1% open space, 5.1% utility and transportation, 0.4% unassigned, 2.3% institutional, 5.9% commercial, 3.3% residential apartment, 47.1% residential.
Image 2 – Source: City of Toronto, City Planning Division: Zoning and Municipal Parcel data, August 2019


Zoning By-law – Zone Category Area (square kilometers) Percentage of City of Toronto Area
Residential 303.7 47.1%
Residential Apartment 21.2 3.3%
Utility and Transportation 33.0 5.1%
Open Space 129.9 20.1%
Commercial, Commercial Residential & Commercial Residential Employment 38.2 5.9%
Employment Industrial 101.4 15.7%
Institutional 14.7 2.3%
Unassigned 2.3 0.4%
Total City of Toronto Area 644.5 100.0%


Although zoning by-laws must generally conform to the Official Plan, the exact breakdown of land areas in land use designations and zone categories varies due to differences in how these areas are drawn and measured. For example, Official Plan land use designations do not include rights-of-way, whereas zones are based on property boundaries extended to the centreline of adjacent streets.

Spotlight: Residential Zones

The graphic below illustrates the percentage of the City of Toronto’s total area subject to Residential zoning (47.1%). On its own, the Residential Detached (RD) zone makes up 31.3% of the city’s total area. 15.8% of the city’s total area consists of Residential zones (R, RS, RT and RM zones), most of which permit a variety of Missing Middle housing forms. Secondary suites are permitted in all Residential zones.

City of Toronto - zoning by-law residential zoning. 47.1% of toronto's total area is zoned residential. 31.3% of toronto's total area is zoned to permit detached houses. 15.8% of toronto's total area is zoned to permit other low rise residential buildings.
Image 3: Source: City of Toronto, City Planning Division: Zoning and Municipal Parcel data, August 2019


  • Official Plan Land Use designation areas do not include rights-of-way (e.g. roadways). To account for lands not subject to a land use designation, the blank squares in Image 1 correspond to the difference in the total land area of the City of Toronto less the sum of all Official Plan designated land use areas.
  • Zone category areas are measured using parcel dimensions, including adjacent rights-of-way. Certain zoning boundaries extend into bodies of water, therefore the total zoned area (644.47 km2) is greater than the City of Toronto’s total land area (634.04 km2). Some areas of Toronto are still subject to the legacy zoning of the former pre-amalgamation municipalities. These areas were assigned to the closest matching zoning category in Zoning By-law 569-2013 for the purpose of these graphics.
  • Site or area-specific zoning may permit or restrict specific uses or modify standards.