Design Guidelines

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1. Streetscape and Built Form

Guideline 1

Set new buildings back between 3.0 and 6.0 metres from the front property line, and from the side property line for corner sites, in order to define the street edge and provide space for pedestrian activities and landscaping. (Figure 1).    

Figure 1: This commercial building is set back from the street and provides a generous pedestrian and landscaped area.  

Guideline 2

Provide significant architectural or landscape features at the corner on corner sites where the building is set back further than 6.0 metres, to emphasize the public streets and enhance the streetscape.  

Guideline 3

Orient the long side of each building to be parallel to the public street (Figure 2).  

Figure 2: This building is located on a corner and occupies more than 50% of the lot frontage.  

Guideline 4

Use clear windows and doors to make the pedestrian level façade of walls facing the street highly transparent.  Locate active uses at grade, such as restaurants, specialty in-store boutiques, food concessions and waiting areas (Figure 3).    

Figure 3: Both the first and second floors of this building have clear windows.  

Guideline 5

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 4).

Figure 4: The main façade of this commercial building faces a public street and has over 60% transparency.  

Guideline 6

Landscape the area in front of a blank wall that faces public streets, and use projections, recesses, arcades, awnings, colour and texture to reduce the visual size of any unglazed walls (Figure 5).    

Figure 5: A corner tower, canopies, colour and material changes add interest to the corner façade of this building.  

Guideline 7

Design the façade of buildings with multiple uses so that each use is defined separately through individual signage, individual entrances and individual canopies.  

Guideline 8

Provide site furnishings, such as benches, bike racks and shelters, at building entrances and amenity areas (Figure 6).  

Figure 6: Site furnishings and landscaping enhance the entrance to this building.  

Guideline 9

Orient the front façade to face the public street and locate front doors to be visible, and directly accessible, from the public street . (Figure 7 ).    

Figure 7: Both the front door and the front façade of this building face and enhance the streetscape.  

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 8).  

Figure 8: Basing new development on a grid layout can easily accommodate redevelopment and future intensification.

2. Pedestrians and Cyclists

Guideline 11

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 9).    

Figure 9: Minimal grade changes and conflict points with vehicles create a comfortable pedestrian environment.  

Guideline 12

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

Guideline 13

Connect pedestrian walkways between adjacent properties in order to facilitate circulation between sites (Figure 10).    

Figure 10: A broad pedestrian walkway links the main entrances of buildings within a development site, adding to the pedestrian amenity.  

Guideline 14

Provide unobstructed pedestrian walkways that are a minimum 2.0 metres wide along any façade with a customer entrance, along any façade adjacent to parking areas, and between the primary access 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 (Figure 11) .    

Figure 11: This walkway permits unobstructed pedestrian movement from the store entrance to the public street.  

Guideline 15

Distinguish walkways from driving surfaces by using varied paving treatments and by raising walkways to curb level (Figures 12 and 13).    

Figure 12: Appropriately sized and clearly articulated pedestrian walkways.  

Figure 13: Raised pedestrian walkways enhance safety for pedestrians crossing driveways.  

Guideline 16

Provide weather protection at building entrances , close to transit stops, and in areas with pedestrian amenities (Figure 14).    

Figure 14: Glass awnings on this building protect pedestrians from the weather.  

Guideline 17

Provide sheltered bicycle parking in visible locations near building entrances and pedestrian walkways.  Ensure that these locations do not conflict with pedestrian circulation (Figure 15).  

Figure 15: Sheltered bicycle parking is incorporated into the building design.

3. Vehicles and Parking

Guideline 18

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

Guideline 19

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

Guideline 20

Design the site circulation to minimize the conflict between pedestrians and vehicles.  This can be achieved by orienting car parking spaces  to minimize the number of traffic aisles that pedestrians must cross (Figure 16).  

Figure 16: Parking aisles oriented toward building entrances minimize the number of conflict points  

Guideline 21

Locating surface parking spaces at the side or rear of buildings.  

Guideline 22

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

Guideline 23

Provide a consistent width of landscaped and pedestrian area across the site frontage (Figure 17).  

4. Landscape and Environment

Guideline 24

Plant street trees between 7.0 and 10.0 metres apart along public streets and along the length of internal pedestrian walkways.  Plant trees in permeable surface areas, with approximately 10.0 square metres of soil area per tree (Figure 18).  

Figure 18: Trees are planted along the length of this public frontage.  

Guideline 25

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 26

Provide a minimum 3.0 metre wide landscaped 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 19).    

Figure 19: Landscaped low walls help screen the parked cars while allowing visibility to the area.  

Guideline 27

Divide large parking areas into smaller and well-defined sections using soft and hard landscaping in order to minimize the amount of paved areas (Figures 20a and 20b).    

Figure 20a    

Figures 20b: Planting defines the pedestrian walkway and breaks up the large parking space.  

Guideline 28

Plant trees in landscaped islands in parking areas, with at least two trees together and at least 10.0 square metres of soil area per tree (Figures 21a and 21b).  

Figure 21a    

Figures 21 b:Landscaped parking islands reduce the amount of paved area on site.  

Guideline 29

Provide a minimum 3.0 metre wide landscaped 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 (Figure 22).  

Guideline 30

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.  

Guideline 31

Landscape any area between the building and the sidewalk with foundation planting, trees, street furniture, and walkways to public sidewalks (Figure 23).    

Figure 23: Foundation planting enhances the relationship between the building and the street.  

Guideline 32

Landscape any area between the building and the sidewalk with foundation planting, trees, street furniture, and walkways to public sidewalks (Figure 23).    

Figure 24: Landscaping along internal pedestrian walkways defines a pedestrian realm.  

Guideline 33

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

Guideline 34

Use sodded areas and shrub beds within parking areas to collect, store and filter stormwater in order to improve groundwater recharge (Figure 25).

Figure 25: Planting islands with depressed curbs allow stormwater to run from paved areas into the islands.  

Guideline 35

Plant trees, shrubs, ground cover etc. 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 36

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

5. Signs

Guideline 37

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

Figure 26: An example of using fascia signs that are in proportion with the building façade  

Guideline 38

Integrate landscape features with ground-mounted signs.  

Guideline 39

Allow for retailer brand identification where there are multiple buildings and uses on a site, but avoid individual corporate image, colour, and back-lit signs from dominating the site.  

Guideline 40

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

Guideline 41

Locate and design ground-mounted and wall-mounted signs to complement the character and scale of the area. (Figure 27).    

Figure 27: This ground-mounted sign is in scale with the pedestrian environment.  

Guideline 42

Eliminate visual clutter.  

Guideline 43

Divide sign space equally between retailers for ground signs of multiple tenant projects to avoid corporate dominance.  

Guideline 44

Restrict temporary and portable signs.  Prohibit billboards, revolving signs and roof signs on private property.  (Refer to Temporary Signs on Private Property By-law and Permanent Signs on Private Property By-law).

6. Servicing and Utilities

Guideline 45

Enclose all utility equipment within buildings or screen it from both the public street and private properties to the rear and ensure that noise is attenuated.  This includes utility boxes, garbage and recycling container storage, loading docks and ramps and air conditioner compressors  (Figures 28 and 29).    

Figure 28: This building is designed with an internal service area.    

Figure 29: The materials and design of the service-building match the main building.  

Guideline 46

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

Guideline 47

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.  

Guideline 48

Provide lighting that is appropriate to the ground floor use and focuses on pedestrian areas.  

Guideline 49

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

Guideline 50

Design lighting so that there is no light spilling, glare or light cast over adjacent uses.  

Guideline 51

Design secondary doors, such as emergency exit doors, to blend in with the building façade.  

Guideline 52

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