Parking Requirements for Places of Worship Explained
Friday Sep 17th, 2021
Parking requirements for Places of Worship vary by municipality. Knowing how many parking spaces will be required is part of any successful plant or relocation. So how many spaces will be required? Let's begin by understanding the basics using the city of Toronto's citywide zoning by-laws. First, we need to source the parking requirement regulations under the City of Toronto Zoning By-law 569-2013 - Chapter 200 Parking Space Requirements.
Under the Land Use, Place of Worship, it outlines regulations for permanent or fixed seating, and no seating or variable seating, each with it's own set of parking requirements, and based on certain times of day. Places of Worship are considered to use their parking 100% of the time. It should be made clear that parking requirements are based on the worship area ONLY and does not include the space used for offices, kitchen, fellowship, etc. Further, the city of Toronto has created 4 Policy Areas, again with it's each set of parking requirements. Below is the map for reference.
Now that we sourced all the particulars, let's put it together using a simplified example.In this example the worship area is 1,500 square feet (SF), the property is located downtown Toronto within Policy Area 1 (PA1). From the Parking Space Regulations, a Place of Worship with permanent seating will require a minimum of 9 spaces for each 100 square meters. Well how much is 100 square meters, all I know is that I have a worship area of 1,500 SF? An easy way to determine how many square meters are within 1,500 SF is to use an online conversion tool, search by "square meters to square feet".
Now that we've determined 1,500 SF is 139 square meters, we simply divide 139 square meters by the minimum parking spaces required in the Policy Area (139 / 9 = 15). We now know we need to have a minimum of 15 parking spaces for a worship area that is 1,500 SF with fixed seating.Having an understanding of how many parking spaces are required based on the square foot of the entire worship area will help you better understand and plan for the right relocation.Parking requirements have affected the faith community's ability to secure property. Not only do they need to meet stringent zoning requirements and the high cost to acquire property, these parking requirements can pose substantial setbacks if the faith community has to acquire more land just to have enough parking.
An argument can be made in support of downtown urban Places of Worship, in that, they may not need parking as there is access to public transit and on-street parking within downtown cores. The city should acknowledge and create some leniency and meet each appeal on a case-by-case basis when assessing the approval of a Place of Worship.
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