Mackay Laneway House: Zoning Variances - Submission 1

We received the list of required zoning variances from the City of Toronto for Mackay Laneway House. (If you aren't familiar with this project, please visit

We are seeking clarification on a few items and we will be addressing some of them in a resubmission. But we wanted to share the list with you all so that you get an understanding of the type of variances that may be required should you try and build your own laneway house in Toronto.

In some cases, there appears to be confusion as to what is the front of the proposed laneway house and what is the rear. I suppose that is to be expected at this stage.

Here's a summary:

  • Only 1 residential building permitted on the lot. We are proposing 2.

  • Permitted floor space index (FAR) is 0.6. We exceed this, though the notice lists a different area than what we calculated for our drawings. Awaiting clarification.

  • Minimum rear yard setback is 7.5m. We are proposing 0m and will not be able to meet this.

  • Minimum side yard setbacks are 0.45m on both sides. We are proposing 0m (no windows) and feel it is appropriate given the garages surrounding the proposed house.

  • Building cannot be closer than 2.5m to the centerline of the lane. We proposed 2.0m, but will make this change on the drawings.

  • Parking space must have a minimum width of 3.2m (because sides are obstructed). We are under this width, but we more than meet the minimum dimensions for a conventional parking stall. This will be further reviewed with a traffic engineer.

  • A building may not be located behind any other building. In our notice, we received two seemingly contradictory comments. In one item, the proposed building is behind another building. And in another item, the proposed building is in front of another building. We are seeking clarification.

These variances are obviously specific to the property in question. But it should still give you a sense of some of the obstacles. We also believe in transparency and are happy to make this public.

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