Car-free condos on the rise in Toronto
By: Luke Simcoe
29 March 2016
A 14-unit development at 24 Mercer St. will be among the first new-build condos in Toronto to completely eschew parking spaces.
No parking? No problem.
A boutique tower in Toronto’s downtown core is set to become the city’s second car-free condominium.
The 15-storey development at 24 Mercer St., which was recently given
the go-ahead from the city after years of back and forth, will include
14 residential units – just one per floor – and absolutely no parking
Nearly 30 bicycle parking spots will be provided, however. If residents
really need a place to park, they’ll be able to rent one from nearby
developments with spots to spare.
“It’s not that we’re anti-car,” says Deborah Scott, who is both the
project’s architect and developer. “It’s just that when you live
downtown, cars can be a problem. Parking is hard to find, and it’s
often faster to get around by transit or biking.”
Scott’s firm, Scott Shields Architects, bought the heritage property in
2005 to serve as an office. Prior to that it was the headquarters of
the car-sharing company Autoshare, a twist Scott finds appropriate.
As the area around the property continued to build up, Scott approached
the city about developing the site. City planners initially balked at
the proposal – a 2012 report called the lack of parking “an outstanding
issue” – but eventually relented.
“Our parking bylaws are outdated and frankly unnecessary,” said Ward 20
Coun. Joe Cressy, who’s given up enforcing the city’s zoning bylaws on
parking. Instead, he’s asking developers to contribute to
infrastructure for cycling and walking.
“The bottom line for the vision of downtown Toronto is that people can
live where they work. It’s more sustainable and it doesn’t require a
car,” Cressy said.
Years ago, developers would have been expected to build two or more
parking spaces per unit. As downtown dwellers ditched their cars that
shrunk to 0.6 parking spots per unit, and developments like 24 Mercer
are “the next logical step,” said Ken Greenberg, Toronto’s former
director of urban design. “Less parking is definitely a good thing,” he
said. “It’s part of a bigger shift away from automobile dependence.”
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