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Multi-residential zoning requirements for most Ontario municipalities generally follow those for detached homes, with necessary changes to permit greater densities. Key restrictive provisions include, but are not limited to:

·         Lot area minimums;

·         Lot frontage minimums;

·         Lot coverage maximums;

·         Overall height maximums;

·         Floor area minimums;

·         Front, side and rear yard minimums (setbacks);

·         Units per hectare;

·         Parking allocation per unit; and

·         Landscaping minimums (as a percentage of total lot size).

Residential zones are often delineated by ascending numbers to reflect incremental density provisions beginning with detaches homes following be semi detaches, and so on. Multi-residential zones are in the higher range but no standardized system applies throughout the province. A fictitious residential zoning grid is provided for illustration purposes only with Zones 6-10 involving low, medium and high rise residential structures.


Overall planning initiatives in Ontario are now directed toward lessening urban sprawl and encouraging infill within existing urban areas, increasing densities and better utilization of existing municipal servicing infrastructure. Infill areas are typically found in inner city neighbourhooods. Planning officials now generally favour multi-residential projects that have low profile with density, height, setback and built form that is sensitive to surrounding built-up areas. For example, a new multi-residential, low-rise rental buildings would have a similar setback and height restrictions as originally applied to older, comparable housing stock within the area. Selected multi-residential developments may also include limited commercial, office, retail land personal service or convenience store uses, where such configurations generally align with existing mixed-use structures.


As with all office, retail and industrial structures, all multi-residential buildings must comply with the Ontario Building Code. Apartment construction techniques and methods vary somewhat depending on size. Smaller low-rise, walk-ups may be built with wood framing and brick veneer (or other siding materials). Larger building generally follow construction methods found in large office building; i.e., cast-in-place or precast and delivered to the job site for installation. As with office buildings, some structures combine steel and concrete; e.g., the interior core may be cast-in-place (poured concrete) with a steel frame exterior.

In recent years, a great deal more attention is focused on improving the visual impact of rental properties, as well as amenities offered to renters. Multi-residential structures in Ontario are gradually moving beyond cookie-cutter box0like structures to more imaginative designs with expanded amenities to meet the more demanding renter. However, critics of rent legislation point to the negative impact of rent controls on cash flows, consequent limited creative construction and a general desire within the development community to concentrate capital on residential condominiums and commercial developments.

Notwithstanding that assertion, newer multi-residential structures are including more extensive decor, impressive lobby areas, extensive safety and security features (access controls, emergency call buttons and video surveillance),  green building techniques, landscape/buffer areas, large balconies and attractive exteriors