91 barton avenue toronto

Toronto neighbourhood's fight to stop tiny building is why nobody can afford a home

A small residential building proposed just northwest of Toronto's Bathurst and Bloor intersection has been slapped down by the City following intense resistance from locals.

And, some are now arguing that this exact form of not-in-my-backyard opposition is a key factor in the housing affordability crisis affecting Toronto.

An application with the City's Committee of Adjustment (CoA) sought to bring a three-storey, eight-unit apartment building and a two-storey, two-unit laneway suite to 91 Barton Avenue, with a massing that would have largely conformed with the heights of surrounding homes.

91 barton avenue toronto

While the address is located less than 500 metres from two different subway stations and is thus ripe for density, the site of the proposed building is nestled within one of Toronto's many wealthy enclaves of single-family housing collectively known as the "yellowbelt," where any mention of multi-unit buildings can quickly rile up the locals.

That was exactly the case for the 91 Barton proposal, with almost 40 letters filed in opposition to the project in advance of the April 17 CoA decision.

Architecture critic Alex Bozikovic wrote on Wednesday, "Today, several of my neighbours are trying to kill a missing-middle apartment building where we live near the centre of Toronto," calling the fight to stop the small development "such a disappointing showing."

That afternoon, a motion to refuse the application was passed by the CoA, despite the design's warm reception by City staff and lack of objections from planners during the development process. The decision immediately sparked outraged comments on social media.

Housing advocacy group More Neighbours Toronto wrote "Absolutely ridiculous. Reform to the CoA processes cannot happen fast enough. Not sure how Toronto gets to an end of the housing crisis when applications as moderate as this one are rejected."

Another user sarcastically said, "Glad to see Toronto's old neighborhoods are becoming museums for elderly millionaires. This will for sure result in a positive outcome for average citizens of Toronto."

Developments like these, referred to as "missing middle" for their placement between single-family and mid-rise designations, have been touted as a creative solution to tackling the housing shortage.

However, steadfast resistance from neighbourhood groups hellbent on preserving a perceived "character" has been a constant thorn in the side of builders and housing advocates.

Meanwhile, the average cost of a home in Toronto increased to $1,113,600 in March 2024, as experts continue to stress a connection between rising home prices and a lack of new housing supply.

Photos by

Batory Planning + Management/Green Street Flats

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