Guiding Principles


The South Eglinton Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (SERRA) is constituted for the purpose of furthering and protecting the common interests of its members relating to real estate, zoning, municipal planning and any other matter touching on or relating to real property within the membership area, bounded by Yonge Street and Bayview Avenue, Eglinton Avenue and Merton Street.
SERRA seeks to uphold that objective by operating under the following Guiding Principles.
  • Preserve the unique character of the area by maintaining as much green space in the public realm as possible;
  • maintain the feeling of a harmonious streetscape;
  • encourage neighbours to work together with owners/builders to develop consensus on development issues;
  • support residents at the Committee of Adjustment (C of A) and the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) when negotiations fail and the collective welfare is threatened;
  • be guided by the residents of our area.
Disclaimer. This document is not meant to be planning or legal advice.

Specific Considerations

The SERRA territory is remarkable for the similarity of its residential streets. The housing stock was largely built in the 1920s and 1930s, leading to a harmonious streetscape dominated by two-story buildings, typically of brick construction. Residential lots are predominantly 25 feet in width, meaning that homes are very close to each other.
There are a few clusters of midrise and high-rise residential buildings, such as on or near Davisville Avenue and on Merton Street. Commercial/office buildings are found along the boundary streets (e.g. Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue). The Yonge-Eglinton Urban Growth Centre near Eglinton subway station is a small and strictly delineated area of taller buildings, on which SERRA cooperates with other residents associations. The Eglinton Light Rapid Transit line will run across the top of our territory.
SERRA will work with neighbours, when requested, to help them understand variance requests and strategies for dealing with neighbourhood development.
The notes below lay out SERRA preferences for residential streets as clearly as possible in a complicated and changing environment.

Gross Floor Area (GFA)

Homeowners and builders are required to apply for a variance to the zoning bylaw if the gross floor area (GFA) of the planned house exceeds .60 times the lot area. On the issue of size, SERRA will rarely oppose requests for variances where the GFA (gross floor area) is .60 times lot area or less.
Where permitted, SERRA favours increasing GFA by adding on to existing homes (renovations).
SERRA does not see the necessity of exceeding .60 GFA in the case of new builds.
Recent studies of areas within the SERRA territory show that about 70% of the existing homes there have a density of less than .50 GFA. Three percent or less have densities of .60 or more.

Length of Dwelling

SERRA opposes a house plan that extends beyond the length stipulated in the appropriate by-law, as that increases the footprint, decreases green space and infringes on light and privacy of neighbours.

Side Yard Setbacks

For the same reasons, SERRA opposes a plan that encroaches on the required side yard set-backs. Side yard set-backs should respect the by-laws and not be reduced in a manner that might cause water, snow, or drainage problems on neighbouring roofs and properties.


Buildings that exceed the height restrictions under the by-law cause massing that is inconsistent with the neighbourhood streetscape. Nearby chimneys can be affected, requiring furnace replacement. Snow from a higher roof can cause ice dam problems on a neighbour’s lower roof.
SERRA normally opposes development that exceeds the maximum height permitted by the by-law.
SERRA strongly encourages new homes to align their first floor with their neighbours, to maintain our harmonious streetscapes.
SERRA opposes a design that elevates the first floor to accommodate a garage at grade with the first floor above the garage. The living space in the garage level is typically not part of the GFA as defined under the current by-law. This means that three-level homes are called “2-storey” homes and the actual living space is under-reported.
Toronto City Council recently ordered a “Planning Study to Address the Proliferation of Tall Replacement Homes with at Grade Garages in Davisville Village” to examine the effects of this design.

House frontage

SERRA supports a streetscape where new homes are built in line with the homes on either side as contemplated under the by-law. SERRA opposes development that does not conform to the by-law in this regard.
Local residents express a strong attachment to the harmonious streetscape developed in past decades. The use of traditional building materials such as brick can often reduce conflict between developers and adjacent home owners.

Backyard Decks

Backyard decks should be allowed where they conform with existing by-laws. Backyard decks that are built at a level near a typical fence height are strongly discouraged. Backyard decks of any height should not be built in a manner that infringes on the light and privacy of neighbours.