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Toronto to review how to make downtown living more pet-friendly

As people and their pets cram into smaller spaces, it's time to start looking at ways to design for dogs and cats, says city planner.

The city wants to help condos adapt better to dogs and cats.

Matt Cardy/Getty Images

The city wants to help condos adapt better to dogs and cats.

Toronto's condos are going to the dogs, and the city is looking for ways to ease the transition.

Staff are hiring a consultant to develop "pet-friendly design guidelines," said urban design manager James Parakh, who'll look at best practices from North America and around the world.

"We do know that we have a growing number of dogs moving into our downtown," said Parakh, "and from a planning perspective what we'd like to do is to make sure that we can accommodate them as best as we can."

The review will also look at possible cat-friendly measures, such as ways to make ventilation better for litter boxes in tight spaces.

"It would be mainly to guide new buildings, but certainly the findings would be, I think, of benefit to all, including potentially condominium corporations of existing buildings," added Parakh.

Some condos already have doggie services, such as the Parade buildings in CityPlace, which have pet spas built into the lower floor where owners can wash off their dogs. There are plans for a pet spa and an outdoor dog run in the upcoming Concord Canada House, according to developer Concord Adex.

But Gilleen Witkowski, owner of dog-walking business Walk My Dog Toronto, said she often sees "a bit of a gap" between how many dogs there are downtown and the number of services to support them.

"Sometimes the buildings find themselves a little bit overrun and a little bit struggling with how to cope," she said.

Witkowski has seen many young couples, who 10 years ago might have waited to get a dog until they bought a house, now squeezing a pet into a small space. She pointed to a few features that can help: wash stations, outdoor plants that can survive being peed on as well as policies to make sure dog walkers are welcome.

Last summer, Metro reported on a condo board at CityPlace that was proposing a ban on new owners bringing in pets. That's the kind of conflict Witkowski believes can be avoided.

"Instead of getting angry, let's think ahead," she said. "With some creativity, everybody and their dogs can got along."

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