Performance standards for mid-rise buildings

The city has a seventy-four page booklet setting out their ideas on how mid-rise buildings should be built.

In the Introduction, among other things, it says that:

The ground floor of buildings provide uses that enliven sidewalks and create safe pedestrian conditions;  (should have retail units)

The public realm should be protected and enhanced by limiting vehicle access from the Avenue, encouraging shared access, and creating a public laneway.  (hide the driveways and parking in the back)

Performance Standard #3:
Minimum ground floor height
The minimum floor-to-floor height of the ground floor should be 4.5
metres to facilitate retail uses at grade.

• Ground floor heights should be a minimum of 4.5 metres (floor to floor,
measured from average grade) to accommodate retail uses and provide
sufficient clearance for loading areas.

Where residential uses front onto Avenues at grade level, the vertical distance from grade to the top of the second storey floor level should also measure 4.5 metres.

A taller floor-to-floor height at the street level also emphasizes this portion of the building and thereby increases the visibility of any developed retail.

As the Avenues mature, residential uses at grade may be converted to retail uses. The 4.5 metre height considered with a horizontal setback required for residential uses (see Performance Standard 10), provides an infill zone that can accommodate this transition.

Rationale - Residential At Grade
On certain Avenues, it is expected that limited portions of the Avenues may include residential uses at grade for the long-term. This is only appropriate where commercial uses are not likely to be viable.

Where ground floor residential uses are acceptable, they should avoid creating conditions along the Avenues that detract from the role of the sidewalk as an inviting and attractive public space.

Special design standards will be applied to ground floor residential uses to ensure that:

there is a suitable transition from the public sidewalk to private residential units;

that landscaping and other design features are used to augment this transition zone; and

active entrances to residential uses assist in animating the frontage.

The ground floor of the residential units should be raised between a minimum of 0.9 metres to a maximum of 1.2 metres above the sidewalk level as measured from the base of the front steps. The minimum floor-to-floor height (ground floor to second floor) is 3.6 metres. The change in grade could also be achieved through a false floor.

The ground floor of the residential units should be raised a minimum of 0.9 metres to a maximum of 1.2 metres above the adjacent sidewalk level. The minimum height from the sidewalk level to the second floor is 4.5 metres.

Indoor amenity spaces are discouraged along the Avenue frontage at grade as well, as they also tend to become privatized, less animated spaces

Townhomes are not an appropriate use on the Avenues, and should not be permitted on the Avenues. The townhouse form creates a privatized frontage along the Avenues, which is difficult to convert to commercial uses in the future and townhouses do not provide the minimal level of intensification desired for the Avenues.

Performance Standard #16A: Vehicular Access
Wherever possible, vehicular access to on-site parking, loading, and servicing facilities should be provided from local streets and rear lanes, not from the Avenue.

Avenues strategies mandate a pedestrian-focus for the Avenues. All of the previously completed Avenues Studies reviewed have recommended an
uninterrupted pedestrian realm by locating driveways and vehicular access points to the rear or side of buildings.

Any new development along the City’s Avenues should reiterate the importance of removing vehicular access from Avenues (whether they are
currently utilized as main streets or not) with the following guidance:
• Side street access should generally be considered the primary solution.
• Narrow sites and mid-block sites should first seek laneway access.

If the only point of access available is from the Avenue, then a series of guidelines should be applied to its design, location and width.

Examples of key guideline recommendations include a maximum dimension for the entrance-way and no double-height access points. The width of the entrance should be as narrow as possible and represent a maximum percentage of the building frontage.

To improve on existing laneway systems along the Avenues, the City should seek to acquire land to extend laneways to full block length.

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