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Real estate in Toronto - front yard parking regulations

Green urban oasis

When shopping for a freehold residence in Toronto buyers often state as one of their requirements availability of at least one private parking spot. It is not surprising - our winters get snowy, and it is often hard to find a parking space on the street that is at least partially level and not covered by a mountain of snow.

In densly built-up areas, like Toronto's downtown, Riverdale, Roncesvalles Village, Leslieville or the Beach, even if the property has a mutual or private driveway, that driveway often is not wide enough to fit a modern car. Some areas have parking accessible through a back lane. Some of the older homes obtained a permit for front yard or boulevard parking.

It is very important to know that unless the license for such parking is valid, it is not legal to park in such place. And, as we were recently reminded by the City, front yard parking license is not automatically transfered to the new home owner upon the sale of property. New owner is required to apply to the City for a transfer of such license.

City of Toronto's website provides access to the new by-law concerning parking on residential front yards and boulevards. You will find an application form for residential front yard parking on the City of Toronto website.

Front yard all bricked up

City of Toronto explains reasons for regulations concerning front yard landscaping and parking. These reasons are: a) to insure the replenishment of ground water level to provide water to our trees; b) to ensure that our storm water system remains adequate to collect storm water; and c) to prevent the development of urban heat island effect that increases temperatures in cities.

Properly landscaped front yard

In the old days many homes were built without driveways or garages. These homes are still standing now, and their front yard is frequently converted to parking space. All new homes are required to be built with driveways and parking spaces. These, however, are not always adequate for families with two or more cars. The driveways and parking pads often replace most, if not all, soft landscaping.

The following are maximum widths for driveways and requirements for front yard landscaping:

  • For properties with frontage less than 19.7 feet allowed width of driveway is 8.5 feet
  • For properties with frontage between 19.8 and 75.5 feet that width can be 19.7 feet
  • For properties with frontage wider than 75.5 feet driveway width can reach 19.5 feet

Front yard landscaping rules are as follows:

  • Landscaped open space is considered an area that supports the growth of vegetation, but also includes a walkway, patio, but not driveway or parking space.
  • For properties with frontage over 19.7 but under 49.2 feet a minimum of 50% of the front yard must be maintained as landscaped open space.
  • For properties with frontage of 49.2 feet and more, a minimum of 60% of the front yard must be maintained as landscaped open space.
  • Additionally, a minimum of 75% of the front yard not allocated to permitted driveway should be soft landscaping, with grass, trees, shrubs, flowers or other plans, permitting water infiltration into the ground.

For more information and clarification of the new rules concerning front yard and boulevard parking please call the following numbers, depending on the location of your property:

  • Etobicoke York District – Wards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13 & 17. Please call 416-394-8419
  • North York District – Wards 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 23, 24, 25, 26, 33 & 34. Please call 416-395-7431
  • Toronto and East York District - Wards 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31 & 32. Please call 416-392-7768
  • Scarborough District - Wards 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43 & 44. Please call 416-396-7505