In Toronto our homes are neck and neck with our neighbours and sometimes you just want a bit of privacy. However, there are a few guidelines you need to know before you build that fence. Learn the essential Toronto fence bylaws, backyard fence height guidelines, fences surrounding residential pools, what materials you can use to build a fence, cost sharing, and even some design trends to elevate this otherwise mundane topic.
HOW TALL CAN I LEGALLY BUILD A FENCE?
Residential fences must be no higher than 2 metres from grade, according to the Toronto fence bylaw. This applies to both the front and backyard fence height. The same fence height regulation applies to uncovered decks capping out at 2 metres high from the deck floor.
If you’re looking for the best height for privacy a fence at 2 metres equates to 6.5 feet, so unless you want Wilson lurking over the fence from the nose up, the full 2 metres is probably the way to go.
Not tall enough? There are no height restrictions for residential properties in Toronto who use vegetation as their fence. Shrubs, hedges and the like can be used as a fence and you can let that baby grow as high as you like.
There are some variations to how high a fence can be in Ontario depending on your proximity to a public highway or recreational facility. Click here for the City of Toronto fence detail outline.
GUIDELINES FOR FENCES SURROUNDING RESIDENTIAL POOLS
Before we look into the Toronto fence bylaws, let’s examine the definition for a swimming pool. Any structure that is at least 600 mm deep and is intended to be used for swimming, bathing, or even wading purposes is regarded as a swimming pool. So, naturally whirlpools and hot tubs, apart from outdoor residential pools, are categorized as pools that need to be enclosed by a fence unless they’re covered with a cover that is permanently attached to them when not in use.
If you’re one of the lucky few who have a backyard pool, you’ll want to ensure you’re following the city guidelines. First and foremost, you must have a fence that surrounds the area around the pool completely. The only opening permitted is for a gate. So pool areas must be completely enclosed by a fence with no openings aside from a gate. The gate of the pool enclosure must be self-closing and on substantial hinges. If the gate has an electronic closing mechanism it must have a back-up power system.
Fences surrounding a pool on a private residence must not exceed 1.2 metres in height. For those pools on a multi-residential property, the fence must be no higher than 1.8 metres.
The building height is only part of the guidelines, the fence surrounding a pool can’t be built any closer than 1.2 metres from the edge of the pool. The fence surrounding the pool can’t be closer than one metre of anything deemed climbable. Be wary of the proximity to trees or large rocks in your landscaping.
In order to build the proper fence enclosure for your pool you must apply to the City of Toronto for a proper permit. Owners who are considering building a fence must obtain an approved Zoning Certificate and a Pool Fence Enclosure Permit. Click here for more on this process.
Toronto fence bylaws also apply to guards. So, if a fence doubles up as a guard, there are property standards that it must comply with.
No matter where you’re trying to build a fence – around the pool or to surround your residential property – it’d be good to first check that your new fence’s height and other dimensions will be within the permissible guidelines of Toronto fence bylaws. And if not, remember that you can request your Community Council for an exemption.
WHAT MATERIALS CAN BE USED TO BUILD A BACKYARD FENCE?
While the common choice for backyard fences is wood, if you were hoping to go against the grain, there are some material restrictions to know about. Your residential Toronto fence cannot be built with:
- barbed wire
- chicken wire
- sharp metal
- sheet metal
- corrugated metal panels
In addition fences that conduct electricity are also not allowed except in cases where it is built for land that is used for agricultural purposes such as raising livestock or farming. Plus temporary fences are not allowed either. However snow fences are excluded from this particular Toronto fence bylaw.
It’s also worth noting that fences built within 2.4 metres of any driveway have to have some visibility and so the materials required to build these fences should be chain-link or something similar.
Click here for full material restrictions and standards.
FENCE COST SHARING TORONTO
If you are chummy with your neighbours and are interested in building a line fence, you may be able to come to an agreement to split the cost of building a fence. However, there is no obligation by your neighbour to share the cost of a fence that you want to construct.
Be sure to know your property boundaries ahead of building your backyard fence to avoid any disputes. If you run into any issues with your neighbours regarding your fence or think it is within reason that the cost should be shared, then consider referring to the regulations given in the Line Fences Act. It was created to arbitrate between neighbour disputes.
BACKYARD FENCE TRENDS 2021
Now for the fun stuff. If you want to build a fence in your backyard but don’t know where to begin with the design, here is a bit of fence inspo to help frame your backyard with style.
The latest trend we’ve seen in the city is more homeowners turning their fences sideways. So simple and yet adds a much cleaner look than your average backyard fence. Building your fence horizontally is more soothing compared to a series of vertical slats along the edge of your property.
Looking for something unique? According to Gardenista, black fences are a perfect backdrop for backyards with lots of greenery. This modern approach can set your home apart from the block.
Fences with Built-In Shelves
Whether you’re DIYing your own backyard fence or hiring the pros, consider adding built-ins. Whether it’s built-in shelves or built-in planters, consider how you’ll use your backyard and how the fence can contribute to its function.
While we’ve highlighted the essential information regarding Toronto fence height regulations and other important details, if you’re planning on building a fence in your backyard be sure to review the details in the City of Toronto fence detail outline.