The City of Toronto has released new guidelines for building vertical communities, after a year-long study looking at how families are living in the city's highrises.

The draft guidelines released on Wednesday still need city council approval before they can be implemented.

The research looked at three main areas: the neighbourhood, the building and the individual unit, focusing on diversity of housing, livability and quality.

Neighbourhood guidelines

Some of the neighbourhood guidelines include:

  • Ramps on public stairs for strollers or bicycles.

  • Wider sidewalks, for children under 14 to ride their bikes.

  • No shadows on parks, open spaces and playgrounds.

  • Providing Wi-Fi.

  • Park play equipment for all age groups.

  • All-season playgrounds.

  • Year-round public washroom access.

separated bike lanes

Separated bike lanes, and wider sidewalks are some of the guideline recommendations outlined in the "Growing Up" report. (City of Toronto)

"The intent of these city-wide guidelines is to integrate family suitable design into the planning of new multi-unit residential development," read the report, which also focused on planning from a child's perspective.

The guidelines apply to all new multi-residential mid-rise and tall building developments with 20 or more units.

Building guidelines

The guidelines issued for the building include:

  • A minimum of 25 per cent of large units; which includes 10 per cent of three-bedroom units, 15 per cent of two-bedroom units.

  • Group large units together to encourage socializing.

  • Large units on lower floors.

  • Wider hallways.

  • Amenity spaces for children and youth.

  • Multi-purpose rooms for toddler play, craft groups, youth fitness and homework groups.

  • Specific rooms for music lessons, food education, tools and "messy activities."

  • Lobbies should include stroller storage space.

Through a series of case studies, the city planning department identified some of the most prominent issues facing Toronto families in condos today — which included stroller storage and a lack of laundry facilities.

moving walls

Moving walls and modular furniture is being suggested by the planning department, allowing families to better accommodate their needs as they change. (PKMN architectures)

Unit guidelines

Unit guidelines issued in the "Growing Up" draft report include:

  • Two-bedroom units should be 969 square feet.

  • Three-bedroom units should be 1,140 square feet.

  • Entrances should include a laundry room with sink, to double as a mud room.

  • Kitchen area should be minimum of 97 square feet.

  • Include standard-size appliances and large sinks.

  • Bedrooms should be no smaller than 86 square feet.

  • Consider movable walls and fold-away furniture.

  • Design elements like closets that can be relocated.

"Between 2006 and 2016, over 143,000 new dwelling units were constructed in the City of Toronto, 80 per cent of which were in buildings greater than five storeys," read the report.

It added that in 2011, 10,000 more families with children lived in highrise buildings than in 1996.

The guidelines were developed by city staff in consultation with developers, planners, architects, Toronto families, children and youth and are intended as "a collection of best practices" to describe the "aspirational vision for Toronto that accommodates people of all ages and abilities."