The evolution of self-storage facilities in Ontario

Ontario is experiencing growth in self-storage, as the number of storage facilities continues to rise and the style of facility evolves. The province now has 37.3 million square feet of commercial self-storage space – or the equivalent of the total ice surface of approximately 2,200 NHL rinks.

In the last three years alone, more than 4.2 million square feet—an increase of about 11%—has been added to the storage footprint, with additional growth on the horizon.

“There are a number of factors contributing to the self-storage boom, such as smaller dwellings—particularly condominiums—providing less space to store personal possessions,” says Greg Martino, MPAC Vice-President and Chief Valuation and Standards Officer. “The pandemic may have also added to this trend, with more people working from home, looking to store items that have accumulated in their living spaces, downsizing or undergoing renovations.”

The self-storage increase is consistent with data released in 2022, showing Ontario condominiums are 35% smaller on average than they were 25 years ago. 

In Toronto, Ottawa and Mississauga—Ontario’s most densely populated cities with the largest concentration of condos—the growth in self-storage has been especially pronounced. Toronto now has more than eight million sq. ft. of commercial self-storage space, followed by Ottawa with three million sq. ft. and Mississauga with two million sq. ft. 

There is also a trend toward more modern design. While the traditional low-rise, mini-warehouse structure is still common, more sophisticated facilities are increasingly being built. These modern facilities are typically larger, fully enclosed, multi-storey structures that offer flexible spaces, 24-hour access and drive-in bays as part of their service offering.

“In the past, we would have seen sprawling low-rise storage facilities full of long-forgotten belongings, but today’s facilities often include amenities like climate control and enhanced security,” Martino says. “We’re also seeing multi-storey buildings with sophisticated facades that allow them to blend into urban areas.”

Top 10 Municipalities with Highest Self-Storage Square Footage

Municipality Total Sq. Ft.
City of Toronto 8,337,098
Ottawa 3,065,090
Mississauga 2,098,770
Hamilton 1,049,608
London 989,410
Brampton 898,925
Oshawa 845,045
Burlington 791,740
Markham 619,943
Windsor 580,320

Among the above 10 municipalities, there is 19,275,949 square feet (i.e., 51.59%) of self-storage area.