The Ontario Building Code (OBC) requires that garden suites have acceptable emergency access. This is critical to saving lives in the event of an emergency. Toronto Fire Service must be able to access every building in the city with firefighting and other emergency equipment.
A sample sketch is available showing the garden suite fire access travel distances on a sample site plan.
A1 – The timing depends on how quickly the property owners can address the steps that they have to take. The City’s review can be done quickly and coordinating the signing of the agreement generally takes a couple of days. Realistically, the quickest that an agreement can be completed is a week. However, it generally takes more time for the property owners and their representatives to tend to their tasks.
A2 – First, any changes to the template agreement must be tracked. Second, yes, it is possible to add terms to the agreement as long as the terms are generally consistent with the purpose of the agreement and they do not impact the City’s rights. The City’s lawyer will review any proposed changes and advise the property owners if they are acceptable.
A3 – No, the template agreement is not intended to give other people, such as potential tenants of a proposed garden suite, access over the neighbouring property. If the property owners want to allow access by people other than fire fighters, they should consider making a separate agreement regarding those matters.
A4 – An example sketch is available (for reference only) . Generally, the sketch must identify the limiting distance area. The limiting distance area should be uniquely hatched and noted in a legend to the sketch. The sketch should have a directional indicator and accurate property details, including any existing buildings or structures.
A5 – Yes, it is possible to start with the limiting distance agreement and only proceed to a building permit application once the agreement has been signed and registered on title to the properties. Please note that while this can occur without any detailed designs for a garden suited being produced, the ability to secure a building permit for a garden suite will depend on the building permit application for the garden suite complying with the Building Code and applicable law, including the City’s zoning by-laws. Providing sufficient fire access to a proposed garden suite is only one of several hurdles that must be cleared to ultimately construct a garden suite. Entering into a limiting distance agreement will not guarantee that a building permit for a garden suite will be issued. It is a solution to address fire access, a consistent issue that we see for some garden suite applicants.
A6 – While it can depend on the specific properties, yes, generally the limiting distance agreement can facilitate fire access to garden suite on both of the properties impacted by the limiting distance agreement.
A7 – No, the City does not make recommendations as to what professionals property owners should use. If you do not know how to obtain legal advice or hire a lawyer, the Law Society of Ontario has a lawyer referral service that you can consider.