Design Guidelines

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1. Streetscape

Guideline 1

Locate new buildings along the public street edge (Figure 1).    

Figure 1: A typical Arterial Mainstreet section with buildings close to the street.  

Guideline 2

Provide or restore a 2.0 metre wide unobstructed concrete sidewalk. Locate the sidewalk to match the approved streetscape design plans for the area. In addition, provide a 2.0 to 4.0 metre wide planted boulevard and a 1.0 to 3.0 metre landscape area in the right-of-way (Figure 2).  

Guideline 3

Plant trees in the boulevard when it is 4.0 metres wide. If the boulevard is less than 4.0 metres wide, plant the trees in the landscape area to ensure healthy tree growth (Figure 2).    

Figure 2: Arterial mainstreet streetscape: right-of-way section and plan.  

Guideline 4

Use buildings, landscaping and other streetscape elements to create continuous streetscapes (Figure 3).  

Figure 3: A double row of trees enhances the streetscape along this arterial road.  

Guideline 5

Provide streetscape elements such as trees, decorative paving, benches and bicycle parking between the building and the curb. These elements should match approved streetscape design plans for the area, or where there is no streetscape design plan, they should match and extend the existing context.  

Guideline 6

Set new buildings 0 to 3.0 metres back from the front property line, and 0 to 3.0 metres back from the side property line for corner sites, in order to define the street edge and provide space for pedestrian activities and landscaping (Figure 4).    

Figure 4: Increased setbacks provide room for wide sidewalks.  

2. Built Form

Guideline 7

Design new development to be compatible with the general physical character of adjacent neighbourhoods. Protect the positive elements of the existing fabric including significant buildings, existing trees, pedestrian routes, public facilities and pedestrian amenities (Figure 5).  

Figure 5: New development that is compatible to the neighbourhood contributes to a vibrant streetscape.  

Guideline 8

Provide significant architectural or landscape features at the corner on corner sites where there is no building, to emphasize the public streets and enhance the streetscape.  

Guideline 9

Design street sections with a ratio of building height to road corridor width of between 1:6 (low), 1: 3 (medium) and 1:2 (high) (Figure 6).    

Figure 6: Street sections illustrate the ratios of right-of-way width to building height as the street intensifies.  

Guideline 10

Base new development on an internal circulation pattern that allows logical movement throughout the site that will accommodate, and not preclude, intensification over time. Design the internal circulation pattern with direct connections to the surrounding streets (Figure 7).

Figure 7: New streets are logical extensions of the mainstreet and support intensification.  

Guideline 11

Create intensified, mixed-use development, incorporating public amenities such as bus stops and transit shelters, at nodes and gateways by concentrating height and mass at these locations (Figure 8).    

Figure 8: Gateways into a neighbour-hood are prime locations for intensification.  

Guideline 12

Design the built form in relation to the adjacent properties to create coherent streetscapes.  

Guideline 13

Ensure that buildings occupy the majority of the lot frontage. If the site is on a corner, situate the building at the lot line with the entrance at the corner. (Figures 9 and 10).    

Figure 9: Corner entrances anchor the intersection.    

Figure 10: A prominent and inviting corner entrance.  

Guideline 14

Create a transition in the scale and density of the built form on the site when located next to lower density neighbourhoods to mitigate any potential impact (Figure 11).    

Figure 11: A transition in building scale protects the adjacent residential neighbourhood.  

Guideline 15

Landscape the area in front of a building wall and use projections, recesses, arcades, awnings, colour and texture to reduce the visual size of any unglazed walls (Figure 12).  

Figure 12: Wall projections and colour/material changes reduce the perception of building size.  

Guideline 16

Design richly detailed buildings that create visual interest, a sense of identity and a human scale along the public street (Figure 13).    

Figure 13: Architectural detail enhances the public street.  

Guideline 17

Orient the front façade to face the public street and locate front doors to be visible, and directly accessible, from the public street.  

Guideline 18

Use clear windows and doors to make the pedestrian level façade of walls, facing the street, highly transparent. Locate active uses along the street at grade, such as restaurants, specialty in-store boutiques, food concessions, seating areas, offices and lobbies (Figure 14).

Figure 14: Generous windows with changing displays animate the public realm.  

3. Pedestrians and Cyclists

Guideline 19

Connect pedestrian walkways between adjacent properties in order to facilitate circulation between sites (Figure 15).    

Figure 15: Walkways enhance pedestrian circulation between sites.  

Guideline 20

Provide direct, safe, continuous and clearly defined pedestrian access from public sidewalks to building entrances.  

Guideline 21

Provide unobstructed pedestrian walkways that are a minimum of 2.0 metres wide along any façade with a customer entrance, along any façade adjacent to parking areas, and between the primary entrance and the public sidewalk. Provide additional width where doors swing out and car bumpers can potentially interfere with the walkway. Make all other on-site pedestrian walkways at least 1.5 metres wide.  

Guideline 22

Provide weather protection at building entrances, close to transit stops and in places with pedestrian amenities.  

Guideline 23

Provide an unobstructed 2.0 metre wide sidewalk in the public right-of-way, across private access driveways. Ensure little or no change in elevation (Figure 16).    

Figure 16: Enhanced pedestrian crosswalk.  

Guideline 24

Provide site furnishings such as benches, bike racks and shelters, at building entrances and amenity areas. Ensure that these locations do not conflict with pedestrian circulation (Figure 17).    

Figure 17: Amenities adjacent to the entrance.  

4. Vehicles and Parking

Guideline 25

Share vehicular access to parking areas between adjacent properties in order to reduce the extent of interruption along the sidewalk and the streetscape. (Figure 18).    

Figure 18: Shared driveways reduce the number of curb cuts and thus the potential for pedestrian/vehicular conflict.  

Guideline 26

Link access drives and parking lots of adjacent properties in order to allow for the circulation of vehicles between sites.  

Guideline 27

Locate surface parking spaces at the side or rear of buildings. Provide only the minimum number of parking spaces required by the Zoning By-law.  

Guideline 28

Locate parking structures that serve multiple properties in the interior of the block as intensification occurs. Do not front the parking structure onto the mainstreet unless commercial facilities line the edges of the building and face the street.  

Guideline 29

Orient car parking spaces to minimize the number of traffic aisles that pedestrians must cross (Figure 19).    

Figure 19: Parking aisles oriented toward building entrances minimize the number of conflict points.  

Guideline 30

Provide a consistent width of landscape and pedestrian areas across the front of the site. (Figure 20).    

Figure 20: Turn lanes do not diminish the consistency of the sidewalk and landscape areas.



5. Landscape and Environment

Guideline 31

Use continuous landscaping to reinforce pedestrian walkways within parking areas (Figure 21).    

Figure 21: Landscaping provides a safe pedestrian route through the site.  

Guideline 32

Select trees, shrubs and other vegetation considering their tolerance to urban conditions, such as road salt or heat. Give preference to native species of the region of equal suitability.  

Guideline 33

Plant trees away from the curb next to private property when the boulevard is narrower that 4.0 metres (Refer Guideline 3).  

Guideline 34

Coordinate tree and street-light locations with above and below-grade utilities.  

Guideline 35

Provide a minimum 3.0 metre wide landscape area, which may include a solid wall or fence in addition to planting, at the edges of sites adjacent to residential or institutional properties.  

Guideline 36

Provide a minimum 3.0 metre wide landscape area along the edge of a site where parking areas, drive lanes or stacking lanes are adjacent to a public street.   Use trees, shrubs and low walls to screen cars from view while allowing eye level visibility into the site (Figure 22).  


Figure 22: Landscaping and low walls screen the parked cars while maintaining visibility to the area.  

Guideline 37

Plant trees, shrubs, and ground cover on any unbuilt portions of the site that are not required to meet minimum parking requirements.  This includes any areas reserved for future phases of development.  

Guideline 38

Use green building technologies such as green roofs, drip irrigation, and other Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) approaches.  

Guideline 39

Protect and feature heritage, specimen and mature trees on site by minimizing grade changes and preserving permeable surfaces.  

Guideline 40

Landscape areas between the building and the sidewalk with foundation planting, trees, street furniture and walkways to the public sidewalk (Figures 23 and 24).  

Figure 23: Landscaping between the building and the public sidewalk enhances the streetscape.    

Figure 24: Planting and benches, clear of the pedestrian travel route, enhance the streetscape.

Guideline 41

Provide a minimum 2.5 metre wide landscape area along the site’s side and rear yards in order to provide screening and enhance environmental benefits (Figure 25).    

Figure 25: Side and rear yard landscaping requirements provide amenities and greenery to the site.  

Guideline 42

Plant street trees between 7.0 and 10.0 metres apart along public streets and internal pedestrian walkways. Plant trees in a 4.0 metre boulevard, a minimum 2.5 metres away from the curb of the public street and 1.5 metres from the public sidewalk. Plant in permeable surfaces with a minimum of 10.0 square metres of soil area per tree (Refer Guideline 3/Figure 2).  

6. Signs

Guideline 43

Design buildings to accommodate signs that respect building scale, architectural features, signage uniformity and established streetscape design objectives (Figure 26).    

Figure 26: Corporate signs fit with the design and scale of the building.  

Guideline 44

Eliminate visual clutter.  

Guideline 45

Design sign illumination to be task oriented and avoid glare/light spillover toward adjacent land uses.  

Guideline 46

Locate and design ground-mounted and wall-mounted signs to complement the character and scale of the area and promote an active, pedestrian-friendly environment.  

Guideline 47

Allow for retailer identification where there are multiple buildings and uses on a site but avoid allowing individual corporate image, colour and signs to dominate both the site and public spaces.  

Guideline 48

Restrict temporary and portable signs. Prohibit billboards, revolving signs and roof signs on private property.  

7. Servicing and Utilities

Guideline 49

Share service and utility areas between different users, within a single building or between different buildings, to maximize space efficiencies.  

Guideline 50

Enclose all utility equipment within buildings or screen them from both the arterial mainstreet and private properties to the rear. These include utility boxes, garbage and recycling container storage, loading docks and ramps and air conditioner compressors.  

Guideline 51

Design lighting so that there is no glare or light spilling onto surrounding uses.  

Guideline 52

Provide lighting that is appropriate to the street character and mainstreet ground floor use with a focus on pedestrian areas.  

Guideline 53

Design secondary doors (such as emergency exit or service doors) to blend in with the building façade.