Under Section 37 of the Planning Act, Municipalities can create policies that allow for Height & Density Bonusing. What this means is that in areas where the Municipality sets a maximum building height or land use density and sets out permissions for ‘bonusing’ in its Official Plan, Council can consider applications to exceed the set height/density in exchange for the provision of facilities, services or matters of public benefit.
How it works
Let’s take the fictional ‘Municipality of Example’. The Council of Example has set the maximum height in the downtown at 3 stories but they note in their Official Plan that they may consider a 4th storey where it is stepped back from the front wall and where community benefits are provided.
In the Municipality of Example’s Official Plan, they have said that the important benefits that they’d like to see in their downtown include: green/sustainable building technology; affordable housing; and, public parkland.
Developer Don would like to build a 4 storey building in the downtown. He approaches Council to see if he can do so under their bonus zoning policies. The Municipality and Developer Don sit down and negotiate a fair trade for the increased height. The outcome makes Don’s development more sustainable and attractive and furthers the goals of the Municipality of Example.
They have agreed that the building will have a 4th storey provided that Developer Don provides an affordable housing unit on the ground floor of the building and installs a grey-water system within the building to recapture and re-use water. They also decide that a small area of the lot will be reserved for a community garden, instead of being otherwise landscaped, so that tenants and local area residents can meet each other and work together to use the space to plant flowers and vegetables for their own use.
The Municipality of Example and Developer Don enter into an agreement securing these benefits, and Developer Don proceeds with his zoning approvals to build a more sustainable, affordable and socially beneficial building in the downtown. Like I said….neat tool!
Bonus Zoning in Meaford
Currently, Meaford’s Official Plan does not include bonus zoning provisions. Staff are proposing to include two new Sections within the Official Plan via the 5 Year Review. The first section would cap building height within the urban area. The second would allow for bonus zoning and list some of the community benefits that could be considered in exchange for additional height.
In the urban area, staff propose that buildings should generally be 3 stories or less however where appropriate and compatible, bonus zoning could permit up to 5 stories. In the downtown, along the Sykes Street corridor, bonus zoning could permit up to a maximum of 4 stories to ensure that the buildings are in keeping with the established character of the area.
Community benefits being considered include:
- land or physical space to provide recreational or social services;
- restoration/preservation of buildings having historic or architectural value;
- land/or restoration of buildings related to municipal economic development initiatives such as municipal parking lots or revitalization of existing or abandoned buildings;
- public areas, parkland and walkways which are not otherwise required to be dedicated;
- public institutional facilities;
- heritage buildings and features;
- protection of significant vistas and views;
- provision of a wide range of housing types including special needs, assisted or other low-income housing;
- provision of affordable housing;
- provision of green technology and sustainable architecture, such as green roofs;
- provision of streetscape improvements or other local improvements identified in community improvement plans, strategic plans, capital budgets or other implementing plans or studies.
Are there other benefits that you think should be included? Are there particular benefits that should be prioritized in certain areas (perhaps along the waterfront...or in highway commercial areas?). I'd love to hear your thoughts!