Breathing New Life Into Toronto's Laneways

Laneway development throughout the city is ramping up with new construction and public space projects.

1 minute read

April 8, 2019, 7:00 AM PDT

By Camille Fink


Laneway House Toronto

Vanessa Fong / VFA Architecture + Design

Emily Mathieu reports that efforts to develop laneways are happening across Toronto as a way to increase available housing and density:

Laneway housing is a bit of a new frontier in terms of urban development — one that’s beginning to gain traction in Toronto after council passed regulations last summer allowing homeowners to convert garages and build up unused space into suites. The rules state the houses must be self-contained and can be rented out or used to provide a home for family members, but not sold off as a separate property.

In addition to housing, advocacy groups such as the Laneway Project want to see laneways better utilized as public spaces with shops, events, and public art. "Some Toronto laneways are already well used as public space, including Graffiti Alley, where street artists have transformed the backsides of Queen St. W. buildings, between Spadina Ave. and Portland St.," writes Mathieu.

There are concerns, however, about design and management of laneways for use by vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. Advocates say signage, signals, and improved lighting will make the laneways safer for all users sharing the space and ensure that residents and trucks still have access to homes and businesses.

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