Queen Street East Urban Design Guidelines

History of the Guidelines

Councillor McMahon, with the help of concerned residents in the Beach, coordinated the creation of the Queen Street East Urban Design Guidelines in 2012, changing the way development applications are treated in the neighbourhood. The stringent new rules will help protect the historic main street of Queen Street between Coxwell and Vicotria Park.

Following the approval of a condo at the former site of Lick’s, Councillor McMahon called for restrictions that would ensure development in the area is built at a smaller, more respectful scale. She helped direct city planners, urban designers and an independent facilitator to organize a series of meetings with Beachers to address development regulations. Six public meetings, a Stakeholder Advisory Committee, and passionate beachers helped shape the process and its outcomes. By the end of 2012, the new Queen Street East Urban Design Guidelines, which govern the height, design and shape of buildings in one of Toronto’s most scenic neighbourhoods, were created. Those rules were passed unanimously by Toronto City Council.

My goal was to allow Queen Street to grow while protecting its character as a destination for locals and tourists. In the coming months, these rules may be tested by some developers who are not keen on height and design restrictions. I will continue to work hard to ensure that Queen Street is saved from overdevelopment. 
-Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, February 2013

Find the final report below and several frequently asked questions about the Guidelines.

 Queen Street East Urban Design Guidelines Final Report


Previous posts on the Queen Street Vision Study:

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is anything being done to protect the Beach from over-development?

Yes. In the summer of 2012, a Vision Study for Queen Street was commissioned by the City at the request of Councillor McMahon to address concerns that the area was becoming over-developed. The results of the Vision Study are the new Queen Street East Urban Design Guidelines.

Q: Did local Beachers help create the Queen Street East Urban Design Guidelines?

Yes. The Queen Street East Urban Design Guidelines were created by local residents and urban designers and planners who work for the City of Toronto. There were six public meetings and approximately 250 local residents gave their opinions. The events were advertised in the local newspapers, service groups’ list servers and through the councillor’s website, Facebook, Twitter and electronic newsletter.

Q: Do the Urban Design Guidelines allow for 7, 8, 9 or 10 storey buildings along Queen Street?

No. The Guidelines set a maximum height of 6 stories. This height will only be permitted in a handful of places along Queen Street. Most sites along Queen Street could only be developed to a maximum of 4 or 5 storeys, and the many heritage buildings along Queen Street will never be redeveloped.

Q: Could an Interim Control By-Law (ICBL) stop Development along Queen Street?

No. An interim control by-law stops certain land uses for one year. Councillor McMahon investigated an ICBL last fall, but legal advice indicated it would be difficult to defend at the OMB, leaving the Beach vulnerable to inappropriately large buildings. Councillor McMahon did the next best thing; she put a hold on new development while the community helped create the Queen Street East Urban Design Guidelines.

Comparing the maximum size of a building on a 35 meter deep lot east of Woodbine. The Queen Street East Urban Design Guidelines will require new buildings to be shorter, smaller and less obtrusive.


  1. Jen says:

    I am thinking of purchasing a loft at 90 Broadview st. near Queen street E. I have heard that 677 Queen St. E is in the process of being sold… Downtown Toyota dealership.
    My loft is on the 6th floor and faces this dealership and I was curious if there were restrictions on the height on 677 Queen st E if a developer were to come in and rebuild?
    Any info would be very helpful.


    • Edward Birnbaum says:

      Hi Jen,

      Thank you for your email. Queen and Broadview is located in the neighbouring city ward. Councillor Paula Fletcher is the local Councillor for that area. here is her office’s contact information:

      Telephone: 416-392-4060
      Fax: 416-397-5200
      Email: councillor_fletcher@toronto.ca
      City Hall
      100 Queen Street W., Suite C44
      Toronto ON, M5H 2N2

      Thank you,
      Edward Birnbaum
      Executive Assistant
      Office of Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon

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