This page provides an overview of some pertinent sections of Toronto Municipal Code, Chapter 447 - Fences, which provides standards for fences in Toronto. Chapter 447 defines a fence as a barrier or any structure (except a structural part of a building) that:
- wholly or partially screens from view, encloses or divides a yard or other land,
- marks the boundary between adjoining land, and/or
- provides noise attenuation.
As well, a hedge or shrub can be considered a fence if it has one of these effects. A "line fence", also known as a division fence, is any fence marking the boundary between an owner's property and a neighbouring property.
Chapter 447 also includes restrictions on heights and materials, swimming pool enclosure requirements and other standards. Some of these standards include that:
- back yard fences cannot generally be more than 2 metres in height;
- front yard fences cannot generally be more than 1.2 metres in height;
- any fence within 2.4 metres of any driveway shall be an open mesh chain-link fence or an open-view equivalent which does not restrict the view of the boulevard or highway; and
- any outdoor swimming pools on private property must be surrounded by a swimming pool enclosure, described below.
Please see Chapter 447 for full details.
Materials and Height
What can fences be made of?
Fences can be constructed of a variety of materials, including a shrub or hedge; however, there are restrictions on what fences cannot be made of. Residential home fences may not be made of barbed or chicken wire, sharp material, sheet or corrugated metal panels. Fences can also not be used as a conductor of electricity, except for agricultural property which meets certain criteria listed in Chapter 447.
Industrial and commercial properties may be allowed to use the above materials. Please refer to bylaw section 447-2 for more information.
How tall can a fence be?
Fence height depends on a number of factors, such whether or not it is located on residential or non-residential property. See various heights below.
Table 1 - Maximum Fence Heights
|Description of Fence||Fence on Single or Multiple Residential Property||Fence on Non-Residential Property|
|Fence in front yard within 2.4 metres of front lot line||1.2 metres||1.2 metres|
|Fence in front yard not within 2.4 metres of front lot line||1.2 metres||1.2 metres|
|Fence in flankage yard within 2.4 metres of side lot line and within 2.4 metres of any driveway||2.0 metres||2.0 metres|
|Fence in flankage yard not within 2.4 metres of side lot line and within 2.4 metres of any driveway||2.0 metres||2.5 metres|
|Fence on unroofed deck and not in a front or flankage yard||2.0 metres above surface of deck||2.0 metres above surface of deck|
|Fence abutting multiple residential property and not in a front or flankage yard||2.5 metres||2.5 metres|
|Fence abutting non-residential property||2.5 metres||2.5 metres|
|Fence not in front yard or flankage yard abutting public highway or public walkway||2.5 metres||2.5 metres|
|Fence abutting rapid transit right of way||2.5 metres||No maximum|
|Fence for tennis court, baseball diamond or other recreational facility||3.0 metres||No maximum|
|Any other fence||2.0 metres||2.5 metres|
If you're unsure of how high your fence should be, you can refer to Chapter 447 for more detail..
Swimming Pool Enclosures
A swimming pool enclosure (SPE) is required for all outdoor structures on private property that can be used for swimming, wading or bathing, and are 60 cm (600 mm) deep or more at any point. The enclosure must restrict access to the structure and can be a fence, wall or other structure.
Permit for Swimming Pool Enclosures
If you are planning to build a swimming pool, you should first obtain a permit for a SPE from Toronto Building. Learn how to obtain a permit here.
Along with your completed application form, you will need to submit one paper copy of a survey or site plan and one copy on a DVD-RW, as per the Electronic Submission Guidelines provided at the above link. The DVD-RW should show the following:
- pool dimensions, including the area of the pool (complete set of drawings);
- distances to the house and lot lines (any elevations);
- the location of any doors and windows in the house (adjacent to the pool area);
- the location of the proposed fence; and
- details of the proposed fence construction (dimensions of the fence enclosure and any gates).
When You Can Fill Your Swimming Pool
After an officer has conducted an inspection and confirmed that a compliant SPE has been built, you may then fill the swimming pool. Prior to this confirmation, you may not fill the pool or allow water to collect and remain there. Failure to do so may result in fines and/or charges for remedial action.
Please contact your ML&S District Office to schedule an inspection:
ML&S District Office
Toronto and East York District
Etobicoke and York District
North York District
Temporary Fence Requirements
If you are authorized to erect a temporary fence, you are required to set up a permanent SPE when construction of the swimming pool is substantially complete or when directed by an officer, whichever comes first.
Temporary fencing must consist of steel "T" posts spaced at not more than 1.2 m centres and embedded at least 60 cm into the ground with 38 mm plastic mesh fencing that is at least 1.2 m high. The plastic mesh fencing must be securely fastened to the posts at 20 cm centres and horizontally secured at the top and bottom by an eleven-gauge steel lacing cable which is threaded through the mesh and looped and fastened to each post, or any other fence acceptable to an officer.
Minimum Swimming Pool Enclosure Heights
SPE minimum heights dependant on the type of property and their material and listed in Table 2. Maximum heights are listed in Table 1, above.
Table 2 - Swimming Pool Enclosure Fence Heights
|Enclosure Type||Pool on Single Residential Property||Pool on Multiple Residential Property||Pool on Non-Residential Property|
|Metal picket fence||1.2 m||1.5 m||1.5 m|
|Any other type of enclosure||1.2 m||1.8 m||1.8 m|
Draining your pool and complying with sewer bylaws
Construction Standards for Swimming Pool Enclosures
A SPE, including its gate(s), shall be no closer than 1.2 m horizontally to the water's edge in the pool and no closer than 1 m to any easily climbable object (e.g.,a tree) that may facilitate climbing the outside of the enclosure unless the height of the enclosure is at least 1.8 m for a distance of at least 1 m on each side of the climbable object.
It should have no element or attachment (i.e.,something climbable) between 10 cm and 1.2 m above grade (the ground) that may facilitate climbing the outside of the enclosure and have a non-climbable facing material on the outside of the enclosure. The non-climbable materials should extend no more than 5 cm above the ground to the required minimum height of the enclosure, but, if a hard surface such as concrete, asphalt, paving stones or patio slabs extends for a distance of 50 cm on each side of a gate, the clearance under the gate may be no more than 10 cm.
Also, nothing shall be placed in such a way to decrease the visibility of the pool from any door or window on the access level of a residential building on that property which has a line of sight to the pool.
SPEs can be made of various materials, with each having specific standards:
Chain-Link Fence Standards:
If the SPE separates a pool from a residential building on the same property, then the pool enclosure's fence and gate must be constructed of open mesh chain-link fence or equivalent open fence construction that does not restrict visibility of the pool from any door or window that is located on the access level of the building,and which has a line of sight to the pool.
Vertical boards shall be not less than 19 mm by 89 mm lumber and shall be spaced not more than 38 mm apart where horizontal rails are spaced less than 1.2 metres apart and not more than 10 cm apart where horizontal rails are spaced at least 1.2 metres apart; and
Vertical boards shall be attached to horizontal rails that are not less than 38 mm by 89 mm lumber and that are supported on substantial posts with a minimum dimension of 89 mm spaced not more than 2.4 metres apart and embedded to a minimum depth of 90 cm below grade.
Table 4 - Minimum Standards for Chain Link Fence Construction
|Fence Components||Pool on Single Residential||Pool on Multiple Residential or NonResidential Property|
|MESH SIZE||38 mm maximum||38 mm maximum|
|14 gauge galvanized wire and 2 gauge vinyl for 12 gauge total thickness||11 gauge galvanized wire and 2 gauge vinyl for 9 gauge total thickness|
|GATE & END (TERMINAL) POSTS - Diameter||48 mm||60 mm|
|GATE & END (TERMINAL) POSTS - Depth of Embedment||760 mm (in 200 mm diameter concrete)||760 mm (in 200 mm diameter concrete)|
|INTERMEDIATE POSTS - Diameter||38 mm||48 mm|
|INTERMEDIATE POSTS - Depth of Embedment||760 mm||760 mm|
|TOP RAIL - Diameter||32 mm||32 mm|
|BOTTOM WIRE - Diameter||9 gauge galvanized, threaded through the mesh and looped and fastened to each post||9 gauge galvanized, threaded through the mesh and looped and fastened to each post|
|GATE FRAME - Diameter||32 mm||32 mm|
|SPACING OF POSTS||2.4 m maximum||2.4 m maximum|
Metal Picket Fence Standards
The following standards apply:
Vertical pickets shall be spaced not more than 38 mm apart where horizontal rails are spaced less than 1.2 metres apart and not more than 10 cm apart where horizontal rails are spaced at least 1.2 metres apart; and
Horizontal rails shall be supported on substantial posts spaced not more than 2.4 metres apart and embedded in concrete to a minimum depth of 90 cm below grade.
Glass Panel Fence Standards
The following standards apply:
Glass panels shall be located so there is no opening of more than 38 mm between the panel and the post where horizontal elements are spaced less than 1.2 metres apart, and not more than 10 cm apart where horizontal elements are spaced more than 1.2 metres apart; and
Horizontal elements shall be supported on substantial posts spaced not more than 2.4 metres apart and embedded in concrete to a minimum depth of 90 cm below grade.
Glass panels used in SPEs shall be:
- Safety glass of the laminated or tempered type conforming to CAN/CGSB-12.1-M "Tempered or Laminated Safety Glass"; or
- Wired glass conforming to CAN/CGSB-12.1-M "Wired Safety Glass."
Masonry Wall Standards
The following standards apply:
The wall shall present a minimum 1.2-metre non-climbable surface to the exterior of the enclosed area.
It shall be constructed of a minimum double course brick or single course concrete block with a minimum width of 20 cm, and securely attached to a minimum 1.2-metre deep concrete foundation.
Where the wall abuts a building or gate there shall be no opening between the wall and the building or gate which exceeds 38 mm where there are horizontal elements less than 1.2 metres apart, or which exceeds 10 cm where there are no horizontal elements or where horizontal elements are in excess of 1.2 metres apart.
All components of a masonry wall used as a part of a SPE shall conform with CSA S304.1.
Access and Entrances
Every owner shall take all steps necessary to control any access point to the swimming pool area.
All entrances to any buildings on the property must be located outside of the enclosed area.
If part of the enclosure is a wall, there should be no access to the pool through the wall.
Gates Closing Requirements
- be supported on substantial hinges;
- be self-closing and equipped with a lockable, self-latching device, which must be located either on the inside, near the top of the gate, or on the outside, at least 1.5 metres above the ground; and
- be kept locked at all times except when the pool area is in use.
If the closing mechanism of a gate is electrically powered, it must include a back-up system which shall automatically power the closing mechanism in a power outage. Both the closing device and power back-up system must be in compliance with Canadian Standards Association standards.
Exceptions and Exemptions
There are some instances in which properties are exempt from provisions of the by-law. For example, some pools may be exempt from SPE requirements, such as:
Any fence or swimming pool enclosure that was lawfully erected before the day this article was passed is deemed to comply with this article and may be maintained as erected, but when the fence or swimming pool enclosure is replaced, the replacement fence or swimming pool enclosure shall comply with current by-law requirements.
Outdoor whirlpools, hot tubs or spas which have a substantial, structurally adequate cover permanently attached to them or to their supporting structures, which have covers which are securely fastened and locked to prevent access at all times when it is not in use.
Community Council has the authority to grant an exemption if the SPE is not practical for a resident with a disability, or, in instances where the CC has imposed other conditions to prevent pool access by young children.
To learn more , please visit our Fence Exemptions pages.
Fence Agreements and Disputes
Neighbouring property owners may disagree about the need to build a fence, what type of fence to build, whether an existing fence needs to be reconstructed, maintenance or how costs should be shared.
When Neighbours Reach Agreements Themselves
If neighbours are able to reach an agreement on their own, they can dcoument their agreement in writing using the form Fence Agreement Form 14.
When Neighbours Cannot Reach Agreements Themselves
If an agreement cannot be reached, ML&S administers an impartial arbitration process authorized by the provincial Line Fences Act to assist with line fence dispute resolution, using "Fence Viewers", persons appointed by the City Council.
Fence viewers will attempt to resolve line fence disputes between neighbours with adjoining properties and can deal with the type of fence and how the cost is shared, and do not assist with the fence location, unless it is impractical to place the fence on the property line, such as due to a stream. The initial fee for Fence Viewers process is $1,110.
Download your Request for Fence-Viewers form here. Please note that you will be redirected to the Government of Ontario Central Forms website for this form. For questions about the Request for Fence-Viewer process, please contact your ML&S District office. The form can be submitted in person to the appropriate ML&S District office.
Offices are open Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, excluding holidays.
ML&S District Office
Toronto and East York District, 433 Eastern Avenue, Building B, 2nd Floor, Toronto, ON M4M 1B7
14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32
Etobicoke York District, Etobicoke Civic Centre, 399 The West Mall, The North Block, 3rd floor, Toronto, ON M9C 2Y2
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 17
North York District, North York Civic Centre, 5100 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M2N 5V7
8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 23, 24, 25, 26, 33, 34
Scarborough District, Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Drive, Toronto, ON M1P 4N7
35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44
Issues with the fence location are civil matters, and may require the owner to work with a surveyor and civil court to resolve the issue.
What if a property doesn't appear to meet standards?
If a property is not in compliance, the property owner may be issued a Notice of Violation (NOV).
If an owner or occupant fails to comply with a Chapter 447 Notice or is refused an exemption and fails to comply with the original notice given, they may be charged with an offence and upon conviction, liable to a fine or penalty.
If you notice a property which does not appear to be in compliance with Chapter 447, please contact us at 311 Toronto, listed above.