The Missing Middle Housing in Toronto

Toronto currently faces substantial housing needs across a broad spectrum of types, tenures, and levels of affordability. Enabling more variety in the housing that can be built in the city’s neighbourhoods is one solution among a range of initiatives to increase housing choice and access for current and future residents of Toronto. Presently, 35% of Toronto is made up of “neighbourhoods,” of which 70% only allow for detached single family housing types.

The “Missing Middle” housing concept highlights the need for diverse and affordable housing choices in sustainable and walkable neighbourhoods. Types of missing middle housing are those that are comprised of between 4 and 8 units. These housing types fit seamlessly into already existing residential neighbourhoods. As population growth continues to shift towards urban centres, cities such as Toronto and Ottawa grapple with how best to accommodate this influx while reducing sprawl. In Toronto, the Missing Middle proposition would allow for increased density, while maintain neighbourhood character.

Missing Middle Housing types, image via Opticos Design

Toronto’s planning department recently released a report entitled “Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods” that calls for enabling and encouraging the construction of multifamily housing. Recognizing the housing issues facing Toronto in the short and long term, this report encourages more variety in housing options that can be built in the city’s neighbourhoods. It calls for allowing duplexes and triplexes, fourplexes and larger multifamily apartment buildings where they are not currently permitted.

Although this report is a step in the right direction with language such as ‘work program’, ‘initiatives’, ‘exploring’, ‘multi-faceted approach’, it remains to be seen whether Toronto city Council will follow through on the report’s recommendations. As other large cities such as Ottawa and Vancouver continue to modernize their urban plans to address these issues, Toronto will have no choice but to do so as well. The goal should be a simple approach, allowing for the development of multifamily housing options in city neighbourhoods to create more inclusivity and availability.

The report in full can be read here:

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