Action alerts


Please direct inquiries to Ossington Community Association Corresponding Secretary Benj Hellie


Thanks an enormous amount to all of the fantastic work done by so many of you under the SGO umbrella. SGO got the community through the first stage of this process with dramatic and smashing success. The time has come to regularize operations, and so today SGO will wind its activities down, freeze this group, and transfer its intellectual property to the Ossington Community Association.

Again, thanks enormously to each and every one of you. You helped set the stage for the next phase, and it could not have happened without you.


The Ossington Community Association warmly invites each and every one of you to join with it. We are on the web at We have an open Facebook Group, and I hope to see there in the near future all those who have taken an interest in the project of SGO.

The object of the OCA is to promote the flourishing of the neighbourhood -- from Crawford to Dovercourt, above Queen up to Harrison -- and its commercial zones: the Ossington Strip and the Dundas Bend within the neighbourhood.

The OCA is fully inclusive: any resident of the neighbourhood may become a member; we welcome local storefronts to our membership; and we extend a hand also to friends of the neighbourhood.

The OCA is working toward operation under a fully Robert's Rules-compliant organizational structure. The OCA was chartered on 3 July 2012 and is operating for its initial phase under provisional bylaws.

Over the coming months, the OCA has two principal projects. The first is to roll out a membership drive. Once a sufficient membership base has been attracted, the OCA will hold a fully general meeting and begin progress toward an election of officers in full compliance with Robert's Rules.

The second project is to represent the neighbourhood and its commercial zones in regard to pending development issues. The OCA has inherited the intellectual property of Smart Growth for Ossington, which has wound down its operations.

To maintain operational continuity, the charter meeting elected a provisional Executive Board: President Jessica Wilson, VP JP Manoux, Treasurer Rob Corkum, Corresponding Secretary (aka Communications Director) Benj Hellie, and Recording Secretary Scot Blythe, as well as Directors Jamie Angell (from the business community) and Daphne Ballon (as friend of the neighbourhood). Two Directorates remain open, as does the VVP position, as do 21 seats on the Steering Committee.

The OCA extends a warm welcome to all residents and storefronts in the neighbourhood and its commercial zones and to all friends of the Ossington Community.

Let's keep talking about Ossington.

Write city officials about 109OZ: Mike Layton, Councillor; Francis Kwashie, City Planner
Basic facts about 109OZ are here.
Join us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter; watch this video documenting our community's fantastic response to the current crisis

Scroll down to see posts.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Smart Growth for Ossington?

Smart Growth for Ossington is a fully grassroots community organization for the Trinity-Bellwoods neighbourhood of Toronto.

Who are the members of Smart Growth for Ossington?

We are residents, shop-owners, employees, and landlords in the area of the 'Ossington strip' -- the stretch of Ossington Avenue from Queen West to Dundas West. Our membership includes recent arrivals in the neighbourhood as well as those who have been here for years or decades; immigrants as well as native born Canadians; and community members of diverse ages and linguistic backgrounds.  Our group has coalesced entirely on the basis of pre-existing community relationships.

More generally, we welcome as members all those who appreciate Ossington, and want to see it grow smart.

What does Smart Growth for Ossington want?

Put simply: we want Ossington to grow smart. More specifically, we want the approaching development of the Ossington strip and its surroundings to be done carefully and in the spirit of 'peace, order, and good government'. We want the strip to develop in a way that benefits a wide range of stakeholders: long-time residents as well as new arrivals; business owners as well as residents; the young and the old; singles, families, and retirees; and yes, even developers.

Is Smart Growth for Ossington a NIMBY group?

No: we don't fear change or want to preserve our neighbourhood under glass. We recognize that cities and neighbourhoods are evolving entities; we certainly do not think that everything is perfect as is; and we recognize that in all systems there are tradeoffs. We welcome growth and want growth: our neighbourhood has changed in many ways for the better in the last decade, and there is much left to improve. But we don't want dumb or careless growth that only serves a limited range of stakeholders or that follows cookie-cutter dictates or that happens willy-nilly without regard to the big picture. We want Ossington to grow -- and to grow smart.

Does Smart Growth for Ossington want to end the party?

No: we believe that part of what makes cities great is cultural exchange and excitement, and night-life is a big part of that. We are also delighted that Ossington seems so much safer at night than just six years ago. We count local restaurant-owners among our friends and welcome their participation. In fact, a big part of what we are trying to do is preserve the 'local, small business' atmosphere of our retail and service environment: we don't want development to proceed in a way that makes room only for Shoppers, Starbucks, and the Gap. At the same time, we value our neighbourhood as a place that is livable for working people, older people, and families. Smart growth is also fair growth and makes allowances for everyone.

Does Smart Growth for Ossington hate density?

No: we live and work in Trinity-Bellwoods because we love the excitement, buzz, and sense of community that comes only from density. In fact, we want even more density than currently exists: this is the only way we will ever see such sorely needed businesses as a full-service grocery, a place to grab a quick healthy lunch, a magazine store, a bike shop. But when increasing density, we need to keep our eye on the big picture: how many people will live in the area ten, fifteen years down the road? How will they get to work? Will the neighbourhood still be diverse? Will there still be kids, seniors, a mix of incomes and cultures?

Is Smart Growth for Ossington anti-developer?

No: we live in a free enterprise system in which people have a legal right to earn a profit on investment, where this includes land development. But we also believe in the common good: a real estate parcel is not just a thing that is owned and that the owner can earn a profit by any means possible, but a part of a neighbourhood in which many interests need to be accounted for. (An equivalent parcel of land would be worth a lot less in the arctic permafrost: what makes the difference is *us*, the community of the neighbourhood -- so it is unfair and one-sided for development to give insufficient weight to community interests.) The law recognizes this with zoning and planning regulations, but the law leaves a lot of wiggle-room in which things can go better or worse: we want to help developers leave a lasting pro-community legacy so that they can help build a city and not merely turn a quick buck.

Is Smart Growth for Ossington trying to block newcomers?

Certainly not. We welcome new arrivals: newcomers bring fresh perspectives, a sense of vitality, the excitement of novelty. Newcomers and long-term residents alike enrich one anothers' social lives: long-termers providing a sense of continuity and history and preserving networks; newcomers preventing stagnation and spurring on continued personal and social development. But this desirable social integration requires mixing between newcomers and long-termers. The feasibility of such mixing depends on the architectural context newcomers inhabit. Do they move into a structure that fosters an appreciation of diversity and that encourages residents to see themselves as part of the broader community? Or does the structure rather encourage uniformity and conformity; does it rather stand apart from the broader community, as an island of a way of life alien to what already exists? Developers, government, and community must work together to make the right choices.

What is the origin of Smart Growth for Ossington?

As with all things, our group began locally thanks to a specific event. In April 2012 a lot of people suddenly noticed that Reserve Properties had applied to build a huge and bulky condo block -- '109OZ', an 86-apartment, 70-parking space 25m building -- just south of Argyle and across the laneway from a lot of houses on Givins. We got to talking and decided to do something about it. Realizing that there is strength in unity and finding a power vacuum locally, we decided to form a community organization to guide the development.

What does Smart Growth for Ossington propose to do about this?

As of this writing, we have met with Mike Layton, our city councillor for Ward 19. Mike got us thinking about a lot of stuff and was very helpful in giving us a sense of what to expect going forward. We have met with the developers once, and expressed our concerns (see the post on Events of Interest.)  From here on there will be a series of public hearings and meetings: see our section on the process by which development goes from idea to structure in Toronto for more information.  For specific details about our current understanding of the proposal, and what we take to be the best way forward, see the 'Basic facts' and 'Remarks on the 109OZ proposal' posts.

Is Smart Growth for Ossington just about this one condo? 

No: there are a *lot* of 'underdeveloped' properties along the Ossington Strip, and we anticipate a lot more of this sort of development controversy in the medium term. As above, we have our eyes on the big picture: we see a power vacuum in our neighbourhood at present and a lot of underused potential; a lot of good things and a lot of things that need to be fixed; a lot of things to go better and a lot of things to get worse. We feel that stepping into this power vacuum will be essential to making sure our neighbourhood works for all of us.

What is the worst case scenario?

Go to Google Street View and take a look at Ossington. See every one-to-three story building up and down the strip? Picture those all gone, replaced with big, dark 'futuristic' looking 25m buildings each running the length from Baby Huey up to Humbert Street. No more Baby Huey, no more Sweaty Betty's, no more I Miss You, no more Frantic, no more Crooked Star, no more Libretto, Foxley, Venezia, Macedo. The 1800 swinging singles filed away in the bachelor and 1BR apartments lining the strip will be hanging at Starbucks, shopping at the Gap, and hanging out at cheesy chain restaurants and glitzy clubs. (And of course a similar environment along Dundas.) Ample parking will be ensured in all the condos, so of course everyone will drive everywhere -- but with 1500 cars pouring out onto Ossington between 7:30 and 9:30 every morning, we're in the realm of traffic jams and road widening ...

That'll never happen!

Oh yeah? Look at Yonge and Eglinton.

What is the best case scenario?

We can work to ensure ... (i) that, as on Queen Street, the city works to guarantee the survival of the charming and historic Victorian old buildings that incubate Ossington's creative business, arts, and culture communities; (ii) that new development is appropriately integrated into the existing streetscape, both as regards size and built form, and vernacular (local, characteristic) materials; (iii) that new buildings do not sprawl 45m back to the laneway line; (iv) that new buildings are not hugely wide monoliths but instead that development takes place on narrower parcels, preserving the rhythm of the Ossington business district; (v) that questions of shadow and overlook by new construction onto existing buildings and residences are adequately accommodated; (vi) that new buildings maintain a reasonable degree of architectural continuity with existing structures; (vii) that parking in new buildings is restricted to apartments of 2BR or larger; (viii) that traffic flows resulting from new construction are designed to spread impact widely rather than concentrating it in small areas, and do not threaten the safety of children, other pedestrians, and cyclists using Argyle St as a leafy route to Givins-Shaw and Trinity-Bellwoods Park; (ix) that new development contains  apartments of 2BR or more in numbers equal to those of 1BR or less, and that a reasonable number of apartments or 3BR or more are build; (x) that new development contains a reasonable mix of larger and smaller storefronts and (xi) that developers will guarantee that storefronts are available to local small businesses and (xii) developers will guarantee a beneficial mix of service and retail businesses along the strip  (rather than, for instance, a bar-club-restaurant monoculture).

That'll never happen!

If we don't do anything, it most certainly won't.

What can I do? 

See our Get Involved page. At present Smart Growth for Ossington is a young group. Right now we are about getting the word out and getting together a contact list of interested residents, shop-owners, and landlords. Expect to hear from us about ways to get involved as things unfold. Eventually if we are to grow into the neighbourhood-guiding entity we think our community really needs, there will be a lot of work to do: steering committees, sub-treasurers, points of order and all that good stuff.

Sounds boring!

Well, yes and no ... but (a) you are standing up for yourself when you protect your community; (b) when you protect your community you are working toward something bigger; (c) Trinity-Bellwoods is full of fun and interesting people, and presumably some good barbecues will come of all this.