Has Toronto finally found its missing middle housing?

by Neil Sharma26 Jul 2019

There are 310 km of underused space in Toronto that could be used for laneway housing.

“(Laneway housing) is intended to focus on the so-called missing middle,” Councillor Joe Cressey recently said at a housing committee meeting. “It won’t change rental affordability overnight, but it is smart, appropriate and provides additional housing options for renters who will be able to afford but currently cannot access this type of housing.”

The City of Toronto expects the number of applications to start increasing once the entire mega city permits laneway housing development, as is expected.

According to Tom Storey of The Storey Team with Royal LePage Signature, most of the underused space is in the core of Toronto proper, and while he says that it will bring much needed supply to the market, laneway housing isn’t the panacea some might think it is.

“It doesn’t solve the housing problem, but it does allow for more unique housing styles,” said Storey. “It could get a lot of people, though, depending on how many apply for it. But isn’t easy, either, because you have to move the garage and build housing there.”

Laneway housing would be as close to a panacea as Toronto’s rental market could receive, however. Noting the city’s vacancy rate hovers around 1%, 310 km of space could fit a lot of rental units, which could take the form of laneway housing.

“It would bring more rental opportunity. If you’re renting in the core, 90% of what you choose is a condo. It gives you a chance to build something other than a cookie-cutter condo. On paper, laneway housing should be the missing middle option between a condo and a semi-detached, even more so than a townhouse. To me, it could be a less expensive option for people and I think the demand for it will be high. Laneway housing is the closest thing we’ve ever had to finding that middle.”


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