Skip to content

East Toronto garden suite dispute puts focus on city’s notification rules

Beach Metro Community News:

The reality of garden suites and the impact they will have is sinking in for residents of an Upper Beach neighbourhood.

A garden suite under construction at a house on Eastwood Avenue between Woodbine and Coxwell avenues has raised a range of emotions for both those who initiated the process and those who found themselves affected by the structure.

For the neighbours surrounding the property, they said news that a garden suite was being built in the backyard of one of the houses on the street came as a shock and they are not happy about it at all.

On the other hand, the property owners feel they are being unfairly treated by some of the other residents in the neighbourhood because of their decision to build the garden suite.

In this story, Beach Metro Community News has decided to put the focus on the rules surrounding garden suites, and the rights of the property owner and their neighbours when one gets built. As for the relationship between the neighbours, it is accurate to say it has “soured” because of the garden suite.

Garden suites and laneway suites were declared as legal “as-of-right” for property owners to build by the City of Toronto in a bylaw that passed in early 2022.

The bylaw means that as long as a proposed suite meets the criteria for size and location and is not requiring any zoning changes or “variances” it is automatically allowed. The property owner building it is under absolutely no obligation to inform or consult with neighbours about it.

The garden suite being built on the Eastwood Avenue site meets the city’s criteria. The neighbours said they were not informed in advance about it.

In this case, the garden suite is a two-storey one with the living space being over a garage. It meets all the legal and building code requirements and is allowed to be built – whether the neighbours like it or not.

What’s generating a lot of the frustration over the Eastwood project for the neighbours who don’t like it are the city’s rules on the suites and lack of mandatory notification in advance.

The neighbours directly to the west of the Eastwood project have a sign on their front lawn objecting to the “monstrosity” of a garden suite being built beside their backyard.

Part of the reason for putting up the sign was to make other residents aware of what they consider to be the city’s flawed bylaw allowing such suites.

“It’s a warning to all, that inappropriate, ill-considered, and ill-approved garden suites will have negative impacts on you and your neighbourhood,” said those neighbours in a statement to Beach Metro Community News. “And if they come to your neighbourhood, know that city planning people and your city government are not on your side. Expect to be dismissed and ignored.”