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So here we are in the new year, ready to think about what can be done with a laneway house. In our case, although we only have 86 cm on the north side, there's a nice wide gap on the south side of the house that's connected to ours (we're in a semi), so I hope we can show that to the fire marshall's office.
On this street there's so much interest in the new laneway housing possibilities that I have promised my neighbours to have a coffee time here in the third week of January, to talk over the details. The Lanescape people have said one of them might come too. So could you please find out for me who I can go and see -- hopefully before the neighbourhood get-together -- about the firefighter access that the fire marshall wants?
Brandon forwarded me your e-mail. It's best if you touch base with City Planning on this. I have included the contact information of the people involved with this below. You might be able to propose the other side as an alternate solution but the decision will be up to Toronto Buildings in consultation with Toronto Fire as part of the application. Other options may be looking at a sprinkler system.
Page 23 of the final staff report has a bit more information on how staff look at the application: https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2018/te/bgrd/backgroundfile-114992.pdf
I believe that these decisions would be done on a case by case basis but it would be best to discuss with planning on this. I hope that helps.
Graig Uens, Senior Planner Telephone: 416-397-4647 Email: email@example.com
George Pantazis, Planner Telephone: 416-392-3566 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for reaching out about laneway suites.
We can certainly meet. I can meet either on Thursday, January 24 at 10:00 AM.
86 centimeters (or 0.86 metres) may be acceptable to Fire Services as an alternative solution (as long as that space is on your lot and is free of obstructions). I would encourage you to speak with Fire Services about it, but we can meet to talk about your proposal in general and I can pass the contact to you then as well.
The person to contact from Fire Services is Doug Babcock at Doug.Babcock@toronto.ca or 416-338-8783. The reasons for the emergency access requirements are detailed in the Final Report and Supplementary Report. If you have not done so already, I encourage you to read through them.
I would caution that without plans I am not certain exactly what you expect to get out of this meeting. Plans certainly can help. Can you let me know what you hope to get out of this meeting? It might be able to deal with it over the phone, saving you a trip. what I hope to learn at this meeting:
1. Where the laneway housing starts are at (i.e. do you have encouraging examples for me and my neighbours?)
2. What are the chances that my husband and I will lose $1500 and get no house? To get a drawing of this kind you'd prefer me to bring along to our meeting would cost me about $1500. If the Fire Marshall decides a priori that no semi-detached house with only 86 cm on the detached side will get his/her blessing, we will have lost that money. Since as-of-right laneway houses are a new adventure for the city, I'm hoping you can treat my visit as an instance of Torontonians testing the waters, together, before some of us are $1500 poorer.
3. Carrying news to my neighbours -- unless you want to come to my place for coffee with my neighbours (you'd be welcome of course!), it would be a time-saving thing for you to have me in your office, me listening carefully to your answers, and then telling my neighbours what I think I heard.
The links you sent me were helpful re the fire rules question. I'll try to contact Chief Babcock as well.
Wednesday Jan.23 10 a.m. Fire Prevention Chief Doug Babcock North York Civic Centre First floor Toronto Fire. Thursday Jan.24 10 a.m. George Pantazis City Planning downtown city hall, 18th Floor east tower.
From wikipedia: "Fire lanes are defined as passageways or access roads that allow fire apparatuses to pass through. They are not intended for normal vehicle traffic."
I'm going to get a fire station lesson in how firetrucks work on Saturday, and I also have a talk booked with David's paramedic cousin. Sounds like the rank and file firefighters and ambulance first responders may have a different view than we heard today. An interesting situation.
From Fire Prevention chief Doug Babcock: "Stretchers need to fit through the walkway."
EMS stretchers mainly need to fit through doors to houses. Our doors: Front: 83 cm. Back 73 cm. Inside to living room: 74 cm.
EMS stretchers are made by the Stryker company. Width: 56 cm (22 inches). Height: max is 100 cm (39 inches), min is 37 cm. (14 inches).
"Laneway has to be as wide as a street or the firetrucks won't fit." Firetruck width: 2.9 metres
Zoning review: $200
Building permit review: $1000
Minor variance application: $1400
2 permits given
51 zoning reviews
16-18 building permit reviews
14 minor variance applications
First: I had a talk with David's cousin, who's a paramedic, and asked him about the stretcher width -- because the fire prevention chief said on Wednesday that they ask for 1 meter clear (no meters, dryer exhausts etc.) between houses, otherwise the EMS stretcher might not fit through. It turns out the stretchers are 56 cm wide and David's cousin said (1) no problem getting through our 86 cm walkway and (2) they'd probably use the laneway anyway.
Second: My visit to the fire hall was just as enjoyable as I expected. The fire prevention chief had told me on Tuesday that they can't expect fire vehicles to go down the laneway because they need 6 metres road width. It turns out, though, that (1) firetrucks are 2.9 metres wide and (2) if there's a garage fire anywhere, the trucks do go down the laneways. The trucks have recently been fitted out with new tablets that show this level of detail:
I.e. the laneways are on their fire maps already. My firefighter friend told me lots more about what they do when there's a fire in the back. However, happily there are very few.
That's far from the only thing to talk about on Saturday. But it's nice to have encouragement from the people on whose behalf the city may be tempted to declare many downtown houses ineligible. In fact, city staff at lower levels seem to be very enthusiastic about laneway houses, as in "at last!"
It was a pleasure to meet you all. As promised, Iíve attached the assessment checklist and preliminary brochure handouts here. Iíve also included our workshop handout, which details the by-laws a little further.
Some of the information covered on Saturday is also available under our website both under the by-laws page and FAQs:
If youíre still unsure if your lot qualifies, or would like me to do a high level review of your property, please send me an email. If you have a survey available that would help, but is not necessary.
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