Car-free condos on the rise in Toronto
As downtown dwellers ditch their cars, it's time for Toronto to rethink its zoning laws around parking spaces, said Coun. Joe Cressy.
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No parking? No problem.
A boutique tower in Toronto’s downtown core is set to become the city’s second car-free condominium.
The 15-storey development at 24 Mercer St., which was recently given the go-ahead from the city after years of back and forth, will include 14 residential units – just one per floor – and absolutely no parking spots.
Nearly 30 bicycle parking spots will be provided, however. If residents really need a place to park, they’ll be able to rent one from nearby developments with spots to spare.
“It’s not that we’re anti-car,” says Deborah Scott, who is both the project’s architect and developer. “It’s just that when you live downtown, cars can be a problem. Parking is hard to find, and it’s often faster to get around by transit or biking.”
Scott’s firm, Scott Shields Architects, bought the heritage property in 2005 to serve as an office. Prior to that it was the headquarters of the car-sharing company Autoshare, a twist Scott finds appropriate.
As the area around the property continued to build up, Scott approached the city about developing the site. City planners initially balked at the proposal – a 2012 report called the lack of parking “an outstanding issue” – but eventually relented.
“Our parking bylaws are outdated and frankly unnecessary,” said Ward 20 Coun. Joe Cressy, who’s given up enforcing the city’s zoning bylaws on parking. Instead, he’s asking developers to contribute to infrastructure for cycling and walking.
“The bottom line for the vision of downtown Toronto is that people can live where they work. It’s more sustainable and it doesn’t require a car,” Cressy said.
Years ago, developers would have been expected to build two or more parking spaces per unit. As downtown dwellers ditched their cars that shrunk to 0.6 parking spots per unit, and developments like 24 Mercer are “the next logical step,” said Ken Greenberg, Toronto’s former director of urban design.
“Less parking is definitely a good thing,” he said. “It’s part of a bigger shift away from automobile dependence.”
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