Selected Topics in Urban Design: Implementing the Missing Middle

URD1051H F
Instructors: Michael Piper & Sneha Mandhan 
Meeting Section: LEC0101
Thursday 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM

About half of Toronto and much of the GTA consists of a “yellowbelt” of single-family detached homes protected by restrictive zoning rules. With a housing affordability crisis and the GTA expected to increase by three million new residents in the next 25 years, the region faces a pivotal decision. Can the GTA’s municipalities open up their neighbourhoods in a way that is equitable and sustainable but also politically and economically viable?  

Over the Fall term, this course will focus on transforming single family homes to multi-family housing  through co-ownership and/or co-living strategies, for those who are being left out of the individual homeownership market. Given that practices such as co-ownership or co-housing are not mainstream, a number of new platforms and organizations have emerged lately to support ‘citizen developer’ types as they conduct feasibility studies, apply for unconventional mortgages, or negotiate complex approvals processes. Our goal for this course is to study these platforms, visualize scenarios for how they contribute to multiplex and garden suite creation, and develop a Guidebook for Citizen Developers that focuses on the nuts and bolts of development and implementation.  

Working in alignment with the City of Toronto’s Expanding Housing Options in Neighbourhoods (EHON) initiatives, students will partner with organizations that offer services/platforms for alternative development scenarios, e.g., community land trusts that take housing units off of the private market and hold it on behalf of the community, who then shares ownership and governance of those housing units, and co-ownership development advisors and partners who help individuals manoeuvre the legal and financial systems to co-own properties with family, friends, or strangers. Students will work in groups on 4 primary components: 1) researching the services and platforms offering co-ownership or co-living options, 2) partnering with a service provider to understand the nuances of the opportunities and challenges of co-ownership/co-living, 3) consulting with the EHON team at the City of Toronto to understand the development process, permitting framework, and approvals, and 4) visualizing design and implementation scenarios of different types of co-living and co-ownership.  

This course is for students who have a strong interest in and passion for city-building and critical urban issues as they relate to the ‘Missing Middle’ of multiplexes and mid-sized developments in and around the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). 

Here is a link to a presentation that provides further details about the course: