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Secrets of the parking pad

Helen Morris
National Post
February 26, 2011

The last thing you want to do after arriving home from a day at the office with a carload of groceries is to hunt for parking. Most homes will have parking or a garage for at least one, if not two, cars. Houses in the older parts of Toronto, which were built before the car became ubiquitous, may have neither a garage nor any room at the side of the home to build one.

One solution could be to commandeer part of the front yard and install a parking pad.

Joe D'Abramo, acting director zoning and environmental planning at the City of Toronto, says the city's committee of adjustment used to receive hundreds of applications to install parking pads, each of which was likely subject to numerous appeals from neighbours.

The province amended the planning act, giving Toronto unique powers to allow parking pads in the older sections of the city.

"We have a procedure where we poll the street, there's a vote, 50% has to agree. On that basis, we would allow these parking pads," Mr. D'Abramo says. "To park in front [of your house], without a garage or driveway, you require special dispensation. That's where you have to go through that procedure."

If your street votes in favour of allowing parking pads, the size and appearance of your parking will still need to meet the city's planning regulations, which restrict what you can and cannot do with your front yard.

"Here, in Toronto, we prefer that the front yard be landscaped," Mr. D'Abramo says. "We have a requirement that 50% of the front area of a house has to be landscaped with an additional requirement that of that 50%, 75% has to be soil so that it can absorb water."

When it comes time to sell your home, the parking can potentially increase the selling price.

"Marketing-wise if you have two streets side by side, the chances are you're going to get an increase of at least $10,000 for a single pad in front, if it's all legal," says Ed Saxe, president of the Ontario Association Appraisal Institute of Canada. "All things being equal, the property with that parking pad will sell faster."

But Mr. Saxe says in terms of marketing your property and adding value, it is crucial that the out-front parking enhances rather than detracts from the appearance of the home.

"A lot of it is aesthetics on the marketing side," Mr. Saxe says. "If they just rip up the front yard or if [the parking] is only really narrow, you are asking for trouble."

Mr. D'Abramo says it is an urban myth that the city is going to restrict the number of cars that can be parked in regular driveways, but if you are looking to buy an older home and parking is important to you, then it is worth checking planning records at the city.

"If you see parking pads on the street, you could deduce from that that there might be a permission for parking pads," Mr. D'Abramo says. "But you always check with the city because there are instances of illegal ones."

Uninstalling an illegal pad will likely give you an even bigger headache than searching for parking.

Posted on Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 02:47PM by Registered CommenterElaine in | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

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