What Homebuyers Must Know Before Buying a House on a Ravine Lot in Toronto
What homebuyers must know before jumping into buying a house on a ravine lot.
I recently sold a ravine property which was regulated by the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority [TRCA]. The fact that the house sitting on the lot was a one storey 1960s bungalow made this property even more desirable to be redeveloped to the highest and best use. This blog will offer a few useful guidelines to determine if buying a house on a ravine lot meets your goals.
Toronto's greenbelt corridors are a culturally significant and important feature that makes our city unique. Like pulsing arteries running through the fabric of the city with it's waterways and eco-system, ravine lots are sought after but also highly regulated properties that defines the edges of the city and its neighbourhoods. The special features make it particularly attractive for real estate buyers to enhance or redevelop ravine properties.
Any ravine property for sale in Toronto can potentially be sited within a TRCA regulated Area. As such, a TRCA Permit is required under Ontario Regulation 166/06 prior to carrying out any new development within the regulated area.
"Development" is defined as:
a) the construction, reconstruction, erection or placing of a building or structure of any kind;
b) any change to a building or structure that would have the effect of altering the use or potential use of the building or structure, increasing the size of the building or structure or increasing the number of dwelling units in the building or structure;
c) site grading, and/or
d) the temporary or permanent placing, dumping or removal of any material, originating on the site or elsewhere.
The overall objective of TRCA’s policies and regulations is to prevent new development from occurring within areas that may introduce risk to life and property associated with flooding, erosion, and slope stability, and to prevent development that negatively impacts natural landforms and ecological features and functions. TRCA’s policies generally direct new development away from the valley corridor and do not allow for "alterations of valley corridors to create additional useable area and/or to accommodate development”. Based upon the above, renovation of the dwelling or it's replacement may be permitted subject to review and approval by TRCA; however, no change or cut/fill of the slope can be supported. Fencing (if it doesn't need the support of a retaining wall) does not need a TRCA permit.
For Home Buyers or Developers who would like TRCA to review your preliminary proposal prior to buying a ravine lot property and carrying out a project, it might be prudent to make a Concept Development Application. Making a Concept Development Application allows TRCA staff to conduct a site visit and provide a comment letter on your preliminary proposal. The review time is usually around 4 weeks.
City of Toronto will be hosting a series of Ravine Strategy Pop-Up Consultation in June and July 2016 for North York, Toronto & East York, Scarborough, and Etobicoke to get the public's input on the future of Toronto's Ravines. Check these dates if you would like to participate.
Buying a ravine lot can end up costing you more if you are not aware of city regulations. Before you buy or sell a ravine lot, make sure you work with an experienced real estate professional to understand the implications that may affect the value of the property for resell or redevelopment to meet your objectives.
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