The Review of Zoning Regulations for Public Spaces on Private Property will explore potential changes to the Zoning By-law to permit public spaces on private property, such as in parking lots in low-rise commercial plazas across the city.

Examples of public spaces on private property include but are not limited to:

  • Public seating
  • Tables
  • Shade or sun protection structures
  • Landscaping and soft landscaping
  • Occasional entertainment

These spaces are different than outdoor patios, as they are not combined with a business and purchasing food, drinks or other goods is not required to access them.

As an example, the non-profit organization PlazaPOPS has successfully facilitated several temporary pop-up installations on under-utilized strip mall parking spaces in Scarborough and Etobicoke to provide spaces for public gathering by installing benches, planters, and small stages with daily programming.

For existing developments across the city, including in low-rise commercial plazas, existing parking spaces cannot be removed as per Zoning By-law 569-2013. This means that public spaces cannot be established on existing parking lots. Depending on the extent of the public space, such as the type of structures that are installed or how the public space is used, there may be additional zoning regulations that need to be complied with.

This review will consider a temporary use by-law to permit public space installations as a pilot project in the Wexford Business Improvement Area (Lawrence Avenue East between Kennedy Road and Victoria Parking Avenue) and support PlazaPOPS 2024 installations. The review will report back on the temporary use by-law pilot project in the Wexford Business Improvement Area and consider additional amendments to the Zoning By-law to permit stand-alone public spaces on private property including parking lots in commercial plazas and other places as they are identified through this review on a permanent and city-wide basis.

On February 13, 2024, a virtual community consultation meeting was held to provide information and receive feedback on the proposed temporary use zoning by-law to permit public spaces as a pilot project in the Wexford Business Improvement Area.

Who we heard from

  • 13 people attended the consultation. We heard from residents, members of Business Improvement Areas, and community organizations or non-profit groups that address or have an intertest in public spaces or organizing them.

What we heard

  • Ideas on other areas of the City where public spaces on private property should be encouraged;
  • Overall support for the pilot project; and
  • Questions with regards to which specific measures that will be used to identify how successful the pilot project will be, if there would be fees associated with the project, and who is responsible for maintaining the public spaces;

On April 4, 2024, the proposed temporary use zoning by-law will be considered by the Scarborough Community Council.