Opportunities to increase missing middle housing and gentle density, including supports for multigenerational housing

ERO number
Notice type
Posted by
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Notice stage
Decision posted
Comment period
March 30, 2022 - April 29, 2022 (30 days) Closed
Last updated

This consultation was open from:
March 30, 2022
to April 29, 2022

Decision summary

The government has made changes to the Planning Act and Development Charges Act, 1997 through Bill 23 – the More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022 to encourage gentle density in most existing residential areas province-wide.

Decision details

Bill 23 – the More Homes Built Faster Act, 2022 – was introduced on October 25, 2022 and received Royal Assent on November 28, 2022.

As part of the government’s More Homes Built Faster Plan, Schedules 3 and 9 of Bill 23 made changes to the Development Charges Act, 1997 and the Planning Act respectively to accelerate the implementation of an updated “additional residential unit” (ARU) framework.

The changes allow, “as-of-right” (without the need to apply for a rezoning), up to 3 units per lot in many existing residential areas. The configuration of these units is flexible, with up to 3 units allowed in the primary building, or up to 2 units allowed in the primary building and 1 unit allowed in an ancillary building such as a garage, garden, or laneway suite.

This as-of-right permission supersedes local municipal official plans and zoning by-laws to automatically apply province-wide to any parcel of land where residential uses are permitted in settlement areas with full municipal water and sewage services. The framework would not apply to:

  • legal non-conforming uses - e.g., existing houses on hazard lands;
  • lots on private communal services, individual on-site services and/or partial services; or
  • land in the Greenbelt Area that is not within existing fully serviced settlement areas.

Changes also remove certain barriers to encourage the creation of more additional residential units. Municipalities may not:

  • apply minimum unit sizes to the as-of-right units;
  • require more than one parking space per unit in respect of any of the as-of-right ARUs; or
  • require parkland dedication or cash-in-lieu or to impose development charges (regardless of unit size on the second and third units – the first unit would continue to be subject to development charges).

Comments received

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Effects of consultation

Municipalities commented that:

  • provincial guidelines should encourage but not prescribe a specific mandate for ‘as-of-right’ zoning and should stress the need for flexibility for different contexts
  • zoning updates done by the province should be coupled with strong urban design guidelines and public input opportunities
  • any relevant decision should reflect local services and infrastructure (e.g. sanitary sewer and water capacity) and other community needs (e.g., transit, libraries, licensed child care)
  • developments should commence construction within a certain period after receiving approvals
  • existing policy levers and tools (e.g. inclusionary zoning, promotion of the Community Planning Permit System) should be utilized

Members of the building and development sector commented that:

  • objective standards (e.g. setbacks, minimum lot size, parking minimums) should be less rigid and the province should consider and accommodate missing middle housing within alternative locations outside of existing neighbourhoods

Representatives of academic, research, business and professional organizations encouraged:

  • use of the Community Planning Permit System (CPPS)
  • ending exclusionary zoning and establishing provincial standards for setbacks, lot sizes, parking requirements etc.
  • alternative ownership models such as co-ownership and promotion of community land trusts
  • more funding or other incentives to encourage the development of missing middle housing

Citizen groups, non-profit organizations and the general public:

  • were generally in favour of ending exclusionary zoning and modifying zoning standards to encourage multi-tenant housing but wanted the government to consider local need and growth, community service provisions (schools, community centres) as well as utility and road infrastructure
  • wanted to see additional funding for infrastructure before approving more units
  • were in favour of adaptive reuse of older buildings and co-operative housing

Effects of consultation

Feedback from this consultation was used to inform the changes made by Bill 23, as noted above.

Supporting materials

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Original proposal

ERO number
Notice type
Posted by
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Proposal posted

Comment period

March 30, 2022 - April 29, 2022 (30 days)

Proposal details

Ontario is the best place to live, start a business and raise a family – but we can only build on our success if all Ontarians and their families are able to find a home that’s right for them. The province’s housing policies are working to get more homes built faster, but too many Ontarians still struggle to find a home. We are introducing More Homes for Everyone, that proposes targeted policies for the immediate term that make housing fairer for hard-working Ontarians and make it faster to build the homes that families need and deserve. 

Addressing the housing supply crisis is a long-term strategy that requires long-term commitment and co-ordination from all levels of government. 

The Task Force report is our long-term housing roadmap. Similar to Ontario’s approach with regular Red Tape Reduction bills, the province is committed to implementing the Task Force’s recommendations with a housing supply action plan every year over four years, starting in 2022-2023, with policies and tools that support multi-generational homes and missing middle housing. 

Missing middle and multigenerational housing

“Missing middle” is a term used to describe a wide range of multi-unit housing types compatible in scale with single-detached neighbourhoods, and that have gone ‘missing’ from many of our cities. For example, laneway housing, garden suites, duplexes, triplexes, fourplexes, rowhouses, townhouses, and low and mid-rise apartments.  This gentle density would have minimal impact on existing neighbourhoods while providing additional housing options. Neighbourhoods that offer a variety of housing choices can accommodate people of all ages and abilities, for example:

  • Young adults can stay in the neighbourhoods they grew up in (close to parents) 
  • Older people can age-in-place and stay in their preferred community
  • Multigenerational families including people with disabilities and/or other care needs can live together to offset the high costs of housing, childcare and/or long-term care.

This type of intensification of existing neighbourhoods provides people of all ages and abilities with opportunities to live in complete communities, close to a range of transportation options and amenities, and in a community that meets people’s needs for daily living throughout an entire lifetime. Multigenerational housing can also support the cultural needs and cultural safety of racialized communities and Indigenous people living in urban areas.

As municipalities plan for future population growth, infill and intensification provides an opportunity to accommodate that growth while making efficient use of existing infrastructure and services.

During recent consultations, the government heard support for allowing missing middle type housing to be built as-of-right, eliminating appeals for this type of modest infill development, and that further support is needed for housing for multi-generational families.

The government has also heard that zoning by-laws are often out-of-date and/or not “forward-looking”. Zoning by-laws that provide clear direction in areas where development is anticipated can help reduce delays by avoiding the need for zoning amendments. 

The Planning Act provides for a variety of tools that can help facilitate housing development. For example, as part of the Housing Supply Action Plan in 2019, Planning Act changes were made to require municipalities to establish official plan policies and amend their zoning by-laws to allow additional residential units for detached, semi-detached and row houses in both the primary dwelling and ancillary building or structure.  The Planning Act also restricts appeals of both these required additional residential unit official plan policies and zoning by-laws to the Ontario Land Tribunal except by the Minister. Complementary changes were also made to the Building Code and Development Charges Act to further encourage the development of additional residential units. The establishment of an additional residential unit is at the discretion of individual homeowners and may take place in existing or new residences.

Further, the community planning permit system is a tool available to all local municipalities in Ontario. It combines zoning, minor variance and site plan processes into one streamlined permitting system. The community planning permit system has in the past been identified as a potential solution for various planning issues, including forward-looking zoning and the provision of a range and mix of housing.

The Ontario Housing Affordability Task Force also made recommendations that could support opportunities for the creation of missing middle housing, for example:

  • Allow “as of right” residential housing up to four units and up to four storeys on a single residential lot, and 
  • Permit “as of right” secondary suites, garden suites, and laneway houses province-wide.

We want to hear best practices and examples of how we can support the creation of more missing middle housing, including multigenerational housing, in Ontario. 

Solving the housing crisis will require new ways of thinking and everyone coming together to do what it takes. 

Any specific policy proposals to address these housing matters would be consulted on prior to the government making any changes.

Discussion Questions

Question 1:

  • What are the biggest barriers and delays to diversifying the types of housing built in existing neighbourhoods?

Question 2:

  • What further changes to the planning and development process would you suggest to make it easier to support gentle density and build missing middle housing and multigenerational housing, in Ontario?

Question 3: 

  • Are you aware of innovative approaches to land use planning and community building from other jurisdictions that would help increase the supply of missing middle and multigenerational housing?

Question 4: 

  • Are there any other changes that would help support opportunities for missing middle and multigenerational housing?

Supporting materials

View materials in person

Some supporting materials may not be available online. If this is the case, you can request to view the materials in person.

Get in touch with the office listed below to find out if materials are available.


Commenting is now closed.

This consultation was open from March 30, 2022
to April 29, 2022

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