On July 19, 2022 City Council adopted a report and Official Plan Amendment (By-law 819-2022) expanding Neighbourhood Retail and Services Uses and a zoning by-law amendment (By-law 820-2022) expanding Home Occupation uses in low-rise Neighbourhoods across the city. The amendments are now in full force and effect.

Local Neighbourhood Retail and Services are small-scale retail, service and office uses primarily serving area residents.

As part of the Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods initiative, the City of Toronto is investigating ways to support the preservation and growth of these uses for existing and future residents of the City’s designated Neighbourhoods.

This work recognizes the historic role walkable retail and services have played in Toronto’s Neighbourhoods and the need to support the daily life and activities of residents and workers and encourage complete, connected communities.

The Official Plan has eleven different land use designations: Neighbourhoods, Apartment Neighbourhoods, Mixed Use Areas, Natural Areas, Parks, Other Open Space Areas, Institutional Areas, Regeneration Areas, General Employment Areas, Core Employment Areas, and Utility Corridors. Lands designated Neighbourhood occupy approximately 35.4% of the City’s land area and it is the largest land use designation (by land area). Visualize the City of Toronto Official Plan Land Use Maps.

This work, initiated in Fall 2021, is exploring potential Official Plan policy and Zoning updates related to retail services and other local amenities that would:

  • Address access to services and amenities for residents of diverse ages, abilities and backgrounds;
  • Provide choice and convenience for local area residents;
  • Support Neighbourhood growth and change as new housing options provide opportunities for existing and future residents (e.g. facilitating retail options in low-rise buildings);
  • Reduce barriers for new businesses seeking to serve local residents in Neighbourhoods;
  • Contribute to the economic and cultural vitality and diversity of the City of Toronto by providing jobs and economic opportunities in Neighbourhoods; and
  • Complement Mixed-Use main streets and retail shopping centres

These types of local retail and services have declined over the past few decades.

Retail and Service Establishments in Neighbourhoods
1989 2019 Change % Change
2137 1406 -731 -34%

Phase 1 – 2022

Staff will bring a report to Planning and Housing Committee in Q2 2022 with:

  • An update on consultations to date;
  • Proposed Official Plan Amendment to update and simplify Policy 4.1.3; and
  • Proposed Zoning By-Law amendment to equalize home occupation permissions across Toronto

The proposed Official Plan and Zoning By-law Amendments are provided below for review and comment. Please send any questions or feedback on the proposed amendments to: EHON@toronto.ca.

Phase 2 – 2022 to 2023

Further research and consultations with businesses, community groups, residents and City divisions on the matters listed below to inform an additional report and recommendations in 2023:

Zoning

  • Local retail and service uses: consider new permissions for these uses in residential zones, including appropriate locations, performance standards (e.g. size) in cooperation with other EHON study teams such as the Major Streets team.
  • Home Occupation: Potential benefits of permitting additional uses.
  • Commercial Local (“CL”) Zoned Plazas: Potential for limited residential permissions, and other tools for support.

Consultation with other City divisions

  • Economic Development and Culture, Corporate Finance:
    Explore economic and policy tools for supporting Neighbourhood retail and services.
  • Toronto Building, Municipal Licensing and Standards:
    Explore implications and potential changes regarding the Sign Bylaw, Business Licenses, and other processes.

The current Official Plan Policy 4.1.3 articulates the policy for small scale retail, service and office uses that permits existing uses to be maintained in Neighbourhoods but limits the ability of new ones to be established, including by restricting their location to Major Streets on Map 3 and requiring a Zoning By-law amendment. This has contributed to a steady decline of these uses over time.

The team is proposing that the policy be updated and simplified to support the creation of new Neighbourhood amenities. As with other Official Plan policies, the Zoning by-law will continue to provide direction on appropriate uses, locations, and other performance standards.

This Official Plan Amendment is not being accompanied by a related Zoning By-Law Amendment, so there are no new as-of-right permissions for such uses on Neighbourhood properties at this time. Research and consultations on updates to the Zoning by-law will occur through 2022 and 2023, with a further report anticipated in 2023.

The Proposed Draft Official Plan policy text is available in PDF format (see Attachment 1).

Currently the Zoning By-law 569-2013 permits several types of home-based work City-wide. These are referred to as “Home Occupation” and are defined as “a business use within a dwelling unit, where the dwelling unit is the principal residence of the business operator”. Specific Use Regulations around Home Occupation are described in Section 150.5 of the By-law.

The majority of properties in areas designated as Neighbourhoods in the Official Plan are Residential Zones within the Zoning By-law. This includes the R, RD, RS, RT and RM zones. The R zone – which is generally only found within the former City of Toronto boundaries – is the most permissive in terms of home occupation.

There are many home occupation uses that are only permitted in the R zone, including:

  • Small medical offices
    • Doctor, physiotherapist, chiropractor
  • Six types of personal service shops where clients and customers can come to your home for services
    • Barber;
    • Hairdresser;
    • Beautician;
    • Dressmaker;
    • Seamstress; and
    • Tailor

As a first step, the EHON team is proposing to equalize these permissions across all residential zones in the City, so that the Home Occupation permissions that currently apply only to the R Zones would also apply to RD, RS, RT and RM zones. Here is the Proposed Draft Zoning Bylaw Amendment (see Attachment 2). Please note that the Proposed Draft Zoning By-law Amendment does not directly address the Proposed Draft Official Plan Amendment described above. The currently proposed Zoning By-law Amendment does not require an Official Plan Amendment, because Home Occupations are already supported by Policy 4.1.1 of the Official Plan, which reads:

“Neighbourhoods are considered physically stable areas made up of residential uses in lower scale buildings such as detached houses, semi-detached houses, duplexes, triplexes and townhouses, as well as interspersed walk-up apartments that are no higher than four storeys. Parks, low scale local institutions, home occupations, cultural and recreational facilities and small-scale retail, service and office uses are also provided for in Neighbourhoods.

In 2023, additional review will be undertaken on accommodating some other potential uses.

This work will consider lessons learned from previous local neighbourhood commercial initiatives including the Residential Apartment Commercial (RAC) Zoning. As Neighbourhood Major Streets may support opportunities for neighbourhood retail and service uses, staff advancing this initiative are working collaboratively with staff engaged on the Major Street Rezoning initiative.