CREATING NEW WAYS TO LIVE, WORK, AND PLAY IN APARTMENT TOWER NEIGHBOURHOODS
Toronto’s mid-century Tower Neighbourhoods help give the region an urban form unique to North America, reflecting progressive ideas that were considered “smart growth” in postwar Canada. Yet while built with progressive ideas about density and suburban growth, they lack key features that many Toronto neighbourhoods take for granted: convenient and walkable access to local shops, services, amenities and the broader opportunities of neighbourhood life. In fact, these features are not only missing in many of Toronto’s tower neighbourhoods, they are prohibited by zoning laws designed for another age. As a result, many tower neighbourhoods, home to thousands, are struggling.
The new RAC Zoning changes this, bringing neighbourhood zoning into the 21st Century. This new zoning changes the rules in nearly 500 tower sites, allowing for food markets, shops, small businesses, classes, community services, cafés and other initiatives, setting the stage for communities, social innovators, service providers and the city to work together toward creating more complete, convenient and healthy communities across Toronto.
Across the world, old tower neighbourhoods have been evolving toward complete, healthy, and diverse communities through small and large scale change.
The following examples from home and abroad show what change can look like!
The RAC Zone bylaw change allows for a wider range of uses in and around apartment buildings creating opportunities for more complete, convenient and healthy communities. These new uses include a wide range of businesses, social supports and neighbourhood resources. Explore the stories to see how change is already happening in our city!
Four Small Businesses
Two Medium Services or Businesses
One Large Service
The following list of services and businesses can operate in RAC Zones:
*highlighted examples are illustrated above
Clearly, exciting opportunities lie ahead. But the new RAC zone is just the first step.
The next step is to act on it – to make the potential a reality.
The goal of the RAC Zoning change is a long term one, in which Tower Neighbourhoods become complete communities for their current residents. A complete community is one in which people can live, work, and play where they live. In other words, they are communities that meet peoples' needs and aspirations—places where ideas can come to life.
Realizing this change will require new partnerships between residents, tower owners, social enterprises, not-for-profit organizations, small businesses, and the city. This bylaw creates room for new opportunities—it's time to take action and see what's possible!
The RAC Zone came into being through a long term collaboration between a group of partners including the Centre for Urban Growth and Renewal, United Way Toronto & York Region, Toronto Public Health and the City of Toronto. Together they worked to rethink the historic zoning and replace it with a new, more flexible framework linked to the aspirations of residents, and the broader goals of Tower Renewal. Following several years of research, consultation, policy design and approval processes, the RAC zone is now a reality. Tower Neighbourhoods across the city can now begin the process of incremental change toward more integrated, vibrant, and diverse community hubs.
It’s time to get started!
Project Development Partners
Special thanks to the City of Toronto Zoning Team and Tower Renewal Office for
making recommendations for the RAC zone a reality!
RAC Project Team:
City of Toronto:
Joe D'Abramo, Jane Welsh, Alan Theobald, Aderonke Akande, Elise Hug
Centre for Urban Growth + Renewal:
Graeme Stewart, Michael McClelland, Ya'el Santopinto, Jason Thorne, Bryan Bowen, George Martin;
United Way Toronto and York Region:
Pedro Barata, Lorraine Duff, Jamie Robinson, Nauman Khan;
Site Editorial Board:
Graeme Stewart, Centre for Urban Growth + Renewal;
Pedro Barata, United Way of Toronto;
The City of Toronto
Site Authors: Josh Thorpe, Carl Shura, Simon Rabyniuk
Cover Image: Will MacIvor
RAC Zone Illustrations: Daniel Rostszrain
RAC Rules Diagrams: Simon Rabyniuk