Design Guidelines

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1. Streetscape and Built Form

Guideline 1

Respond to the positive elements of the context through such means as building height, setbacks, building orientation and architectural styles (Figures 1 and 2).    

Figure 1: This two storey drive-through restaurant responds to an arterial road context using an appropriate setback and building height.

Figure 2: This drive-through development responds to its traditional village context using a compatible building style.  

Guideline 2

Locate buildings close to the street to help define the street edge.  

Guideline 3

Provide ample landscaping, in combination with building orientation, to enhance the streetscape and define the street edge when setting buildings back from the street is unavoidable (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Along this drive-through development, mature trees help define the street edge.  

Guideline 4

Provide weather protection at the main building entrance, for areas close to public transit stops, bicycle parking, walkways, and in places with pedestrian amenities.  

Guideline 5

Locate public amenities close to the building entrances (Figure 4).    

Figure 4: Outdoor patios, phone booths and bike racks are amenities close to the public street.  

Guideline 6

Locate interior uses such as seating areas, employee rooms, offices, waiting areas and lobbies, which have the potential for clear windows, along street-facing walls (Figure 5).    

Figure 5: Employee rooms with glass windows are located facing the public areas in this drive-through bank.  

Guideline 7

Make the majority of the pedestrian level façade facing the street highly transparent with clear glass windows and doors that animate public streets and maximize views in and out of the building.  

Guideline 8

Landscape the area in front of blank walls that face public streets and use projections, recesses, arcades, awnings, colour and texture to reduce the visual size of any unglazed walls.  

Guideline 9

Coordinate architectural detail and character within an overall design concept for all building sides and components (Figure 6).    

Figure 6: At the back of this drive-through restaurant, architectural details are consistent with the other sides of the building.

2. Pedestrians and Cyclists

Guideline 10

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 7).    

Figure 7: The continuous public sidewalk across driveways provides a pedestrian zone.  

Guideline 11

Distinguish walkways from driving surfaces by using varied paving treatments and by raising walkways to curb level (Figure 8).

Figure 8: Raised pedestrian walkways enhance safety for pedestrians crossing driveways.

Guideline 12

Provide customer entrance doors that are close to parking areas (Figure 9)    

Figure 9: This drive-through restaurant has a customer entrance directly accessible from both the public sidewalk and the parking area.  

Guideline 13

Provide customer entrance doors clearly visible from public streets and directly accessible from the public sidewalk (Figure 9).  

Guideline 14

Make the majority of the pedestrian level façade facing the street highly transparent with clear glass windows and doors that animate public streets and maximize views in and out of the building.  

Guideline 15

Use landscaping or similar means to delineate pedestrian walkways and pedestrian access to the buildings.  

Guideline 16

Locate required bicycle parking close to the building entrance in a manner that does not impede pedestrian movement.



3. Vehicles and Parking

Guideline 17

Locate surface parking areas and stacking lanes at the side or rear of buildings. (Figure 10).    

Figure 10: Locating parking and driveway areas at the rear of the site provides opportunities to frame the street edge with built structures.  

Guideline 18

Minimize the number and width of driveways from the public street while ensuring they meet the requirements of the Private Approach By-law (Figure 11).    

Figure 11: Minimizing the number and width of driveways helps reduce interruptions to the public sidewalk.  

Guideline 19

Locate vehicular access points to the sites as far away as possible from street intersections.  Locate vehicle access points to corner sites on the secondary street (Figure12).

Figure 12: Locating vehicular access points far from the intersection helps reduce potential impacts on the traffic at the intersection.  

Guideline 20

Locate stacking lanes away from adjacent sensitive uses, such as residential and outdoor amenity areas, to reduce the impacts of noise and pollution that could be caused by stacking cars on such uses.  Use landscaping and fencing to help buffer potential impacts.  

Guideline 21

Locate the start point to the stacking lane at the rear of the site so that queued vehicles do not block traffic along the public streets or the movement of other vehicles on site (Figure 13).

Figure 13: In these two drive-through sites, start points are located at the rear of the site to minimize the potential impacts on other traffic that could be caused by stacking cars.  

Guideline 22

Avoid locating the stacking lane between the building and the public street.  

Guideline 23

Provide escape lanes and the appropriate number of queuing spaces as required by the Zoning By-law to create efficient stacking lanes and to minimize on-site conflicts (Figures 13 and 14).

Figure 14: In this drive-through site, sufficient queuing spaces are provided. The escape lane allows cars to exit from the stacking lane without having to drive by the pickup window.  

Guideline 24

Separate stacking lanes from parking areas and driveways using landscaped islands, decorative pavement, pervious islands and painted lines (Figures 15 and Figure 16).

Figure 15: A grassed curb separates the stacking lane from parking areas in this drive-through site.

Figure 16: Landscaping that separates stacking lanes from parking areas and driveways is desirable.  

Guideline 25

Design the on-site circulation to minimize the conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles.  

Guideline 26

Provide separate stacking lanes when two drive-through uses exist on the same site.  

Guideline 27

Provide only the minimum number of parking spaces required by the Zoning By-law.

4. Landscape and Environment

Guideline 28

Plant street trees between 7.0 to 10.0 metres apart along public streets.  Plant trees in permeable surface areas, with approximately10.0 square metres of soil area per tree (Figure 17).  

Figure 17: Along the front of this drive-through restaurant, street trees every 7 to 10 metres enhance the streetscape.  

Guideline 29

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

Guideline 30

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 (Figures 18 and 19).

Figure 18: A landscaped setback screens the stacking lane from the street.

Figure 19: The fence and shrubs along the edge of the site screens the driveway from view.  

Guideline 31

Provide a minimum 2.5 metre wide landscape area along the site’s side and rear yards in order to provide screening and enhance site environmental benefits (Figure 20).

Figure 20: The landscape area provides screening and enhances environmental benefits.  

Guideline 32

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 that are adjacent to residential or institutional properties.  

Guideline 33

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

Guideline 34

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

Guideline 35

Use sodded areas and shrub beds to collect, store and filter stormwater in order to improve groundwater recharge (Figures 20 and 21).

Figure 21: The planting area collects and stores stormwater.  

Guideline 36

Divide large parking areas into smaller and well-defined sections using soft and hard landscaping in order minimize the amount of paved area (Figure 22).

Figure 22: Landscaping and walkways divide large parking lots into smaller pieces.

5. Signs

Guideline 37

Locate and design ground-mounted and wall-mounted signs to complement the character and scale of the area. Integrate landscape features with ground-mounted signs (Figure 23).    

Figure 23: Design wall-mounted signs and ground signs that are in proportion with the buildings.  

Guideline 38

Use pavement markings and directional signs to enhance clarity of movement patterns on site.  

Guideline 39

Design buildings to include defined spaces to accommodate signs that respect building scale, architectural features, signage uniformity and established streetscape design objectives.  

Guideline 40

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

Guideline 41

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

6. Servicing and Utilities

Guideline 42

Design garbage enclosures that are external to the building with the same materials as the building and ensure that the wall height is sufficient to completely conceal garbage dumpsters (Figure 24).    

Figure 24: At this drive-through development, the garbage enclosure structure is visually harmonized with the main building through similar material colour and texture.  

Guideline 43

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

Guideline 44

Locate noise-generating areas, including ordering board speakers, outdoor loading areas and garbage storage, away from sensitive uses such as residential areas and schools.  

Guideline 45

Buffer potential noise impacts with building structures, landscaped berms or attenuation fencing (minimum 1.8 metre in height) with landscaping in front.  

Guideline 46

Design lighting so that there is no light spillage, glare or light cast over adjacent uses.  Direct and/or shield lighting sources away from adjacent residential properties and provide screening as necessary.  

Guideline 47

Use efficient white light sources to reduce energy costs and to create a natural colour balance for safety and security.  

Guideline 48

Plan the site to include areas for temporary snow storage without conflicting with site circulation, landscaping and utility boxes.  

Guideline 49

Provide views and clear sightlines between the site and surrounding uses to ensure sufficient safety and comfort levels (Figure 25).

Figure 25: The ATM of this drive-through bank is directly visible from the surrounding areas, providing a sense of security for users, especially at night.


 The ATM of this drive-through bank is directly visible from the surrounding areas, providing a sense of security for users, especially at night.