Privately-owned publicly-accessible spaces (POPS) are Toronto’s approach to creating workable common areas for the city. These are privately owned and maintained spaces that are required to be available for use by the public. Spaces are created by a zoning by-law or planning agreement.
Developers may agree to provide and maintain these spaces in return for development approval of allowances to exceed certain height or density limits, or other concessions. The community benefits by having public access to land privately owned and maintained. This creates more court yards, green space and walking areas for the public to enjoy.
Existing POPS include the Rose Garden at Yorkville Four Seasons Hotel and Residences, parkettes and artwork throughout the city, and the PATH system.
Condominium developments may include POPS as amenities to building residents and the general public. The condominium corporation is typically responsible for maintaining POPS in a way that encourages public use. They may install seating, children’s play area, public art, lighting or plantings. Fencing, gates or anything to discourage public use is generally not allowed. Maintenance and repair is the responsibility of the condominium corporation.
The developer may have set aside money to help the condominium corporation pay for maintenance and repair of POPS. If funds have not been provided, or have been depleted, the condominium corporation may be responsible for costs associated with maintaining the space. Failure to maintain the area could place a legal liability on the corporation if anyone is injured. Insurance coverage may require higher premiums for liability protection.
POPS created after July 11, 2014 are required to have a sign posted identifying the space as privately-owned and publicly-accessible.
POPS have been successfully integrated throughout Toronto. Those located on condominium property are typically a valued amenity for those who reside in the building.