Residential Apartment Commercial zoning

Residential Apartment Commercial zoning was adopted by the City of Toronto when it passed a by-law in 2013. The Ontario Municipal Board approved the new by-law and 2016 and it was ready for use in 2017.

Residential Apartment Commercial (RAC) zoning allows small-scale non-residential uses, such as food markets, shops, small business, classes, community facilities and other initiatives, on more than 400 apartment buildings sites that were previously residential-only.

Allowing for a wider range of uses in apartment tower neighbourhoods has a number of benefits, such as: 

convenient and walkable access to local shops, services and amenities for residents.

opportunities to engage in small-scale enterprises for residents and the community.

new service offerings to current and potential residents and a new potential revenue stream for property owners.

more animated, safer and inviting places for everyone!

How a zoning bylaw could transform 500 apartment sites across the city
Grocery stores, clinics, gyms, libraries, gardens now legal in many tower communities

CBC News  (abridged)
By Lauren Pelley
19 July 2017

Bylaw means clinics, gyms, stores now legal in tower complexes

Aderonke Akande, manager of the city's tower and neighbourhood revitalization unit, said the focus is on older, larger buildings that are more than 100 units in size.

"It looks at sites that were formerly zoned as residential apartments, and then changes them so we can now bring those commercial and community uses on-site," she explained.

The bylaw means grocery stores, clinics, gyms, libraries, gardens, and various other facilities are now legal in various apartment neighbourhoods outlined by the city.

And it has the potential to update older tower complexes so they feel more like modern condos — which often have food, retail, and offices built into the design — while marking a shift from older neighbourhood strategies, advocates say.

While earlier planning focused on separating work and home, leading to long drives for tower residents, "the nature and the use of those buildings is entirely different" today, said Pedro Barata, vice-president of strategy and public affairs for the United Way Toronto & York Region.

The United Way supports the bylaw, according to Barata, since it could help revitalize these communities that are now "havens" for immigrants and other newcomers to the city.

"What we found is there are a lot of challenges in these neighbourhoods, in terms of tons and tons of people cut off from transit, cut off from services, cut off from jobs," echoed Graeme Stewart, principal at ERA Architects, who helped work on the bylaw and is the moderator for the panel discussion this week.

"And when we looked and realized the old zoning actually was exacerbating that — in fact, you couldn't do those things, they were technically illegal — no one thought that was good. It was just a hangover from the 1970s."

My opinion on this:
Compared to Asian countries, this by-law took far to long to get approved and it is still shackled by rules, by-laws and required approvals.

I doubt that it will make much of an impact on these communities at all and that in the long term, the termination of the condo corporations and the demolition and replacement of the old rental stock will make more sense.

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