Toronto wants more ‘pet-friendly’ buildings; could Burlington, Milton, Oakville be next?

Published December 24, 2019 at 1:40 pm

The City of Toronto has new 

The City of Toronto has new Pet Friendly Design Guidelines; should Burlington, Milton, and Oakville follow-suit?

The purpose of the documents is to guide new developments in a direction that is “more supportive of a growing pet population” and provide “needed pet amenities for high-density residential communities”.

Among the recommendations for building developers:

  • Designated indoor and outdoor pet relief areas
  • Pet spas/wash stations
  • Designated pet play areas
  • Soundproofing residential units
  • Pet-friendly floor material to reduce wear-and-tear
  • Flexible storage spaces for pet amenities, including cat litter boxes

According to city staff, Toronto is home to “hundreds of thousands” of pets; however, both pet and non-pet owners can benefit from the new guidelines as it could limit the animal impact on local parks and open spaces.

“In dense parts of the city with high pet populations, potential impacts from smells, noise, mess, and other issues present unique challenges for the public realm, common areas in buildings, and in compact living spaces,” according to the City of Toronto. “In response, this document provides strategies, guidelines and supporting best practices… to promote amenities and spaces that support the creation of more friendly and accessible spaces for pets, their owners, and others.”

While exact pet population numbers are unknown, a 2013 survey commissioned by the City of Toronto indicated that 31 per cent of Toronto households have at least one dog or cat. The City of Toronto says those numbers are also projected to grow, with residents in multi-unit buildings increasingly choosing pet ownership.

The majority of the guidance presented by the city is related to dogs but some recommendations in terms of design or use of space are applicable to other animals, particularly when addressing the more personal design and configuration of units.

The city says the guidelines are to be used by the development industry in the preparation of development applications by architects to inform the size, location and layout of pet-friendly facilities. The information will also be used by city staff in the “various stages of development application review to identify best practices and help inform decisions that will support pet-friendly environments”.

While the guidelines are not meant to be law, but rather as an information reference that focuses on three scales: Neighbourhood, building, and unit. They can also be used to inform renovations and improvements to existing multi-unit buildings to become more pet-friendly.

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