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

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Basic facts on impact and law

109OZ has not been approved.

Height.  The proposal is for a "6-story", but with its double-height first floor and HVAC story it is 82 ft, as high as an 8-story building, and 2-8 times higher than every building in the area.  Ossington is LOWRISE (1-4 stories), the proposal is MIDRISE (5-10 stories).  The MIDRISE height (82 ft) almost doubles Ossington's LOWRISE by-law maximum (46 ft).

Bulk, looming, shadow.  The proposal is 151 ft wide (1/3 of the block) and 116 ft deep, just 21 ft from Argyle Place, abutting Givins residences. Multiplied by its 82 ft height, this makes for a huge, bulky structure, three times as voluminous as everything else on the block combined, which would loom oppressively over the center of the Ossington strip and several dozen homes, blocking afternoon light from dozens of cultivated front and back gardens.

(By way of comparison, the 3-story Golden Turtle building is 33 feet high, 17 feet wide, 43 feet deep.)

Balconies, overlook, and noise.  The proposal has 80+ balconies closely and directly overlooking front and back yards of several dozen homes on Argyle, Givins, and even Brookfield.  The privacy and noise concerns for residents (especially given advertising promising a "party building") are obvious.

Units.  The proposal has 86 small units (avg. 700 sq ft), no family (3Br) units.

Chain store retail. The 11K sq. ft. space is built to house 1 'AAA' retail (i.e., chain) store. How hip!

Negative impact on Ossington's character. Like Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Ossington's status as Toronto's restaurant row and eclectic destination district is crucially constituted by its "main street character buildings" and open "street piazza" feel.  Dropping a big ol' King West-style big-box condo with chain retail on the strip would suck the cool from the area, and set a precedent for MIDRISE on Ossington that would quickly degrade it into a place like any other.

Density.  The proposal has a density---the ratio of square footage built to the size of the lot---of 3.9.  That is 56% higher than the existing by-law maximum of 2.5.

Cars, parking, safety.  The proposal has underground parking for ~70 cars off of the narrow Argyle Place laneway (which would need to be widened---how?).  This doubles the cars in the area and raises serious safety concerns about vehicles cutting across Argyle St, the main walking path of children to Givins-Shaw Elementary and a primary pedestrian and bike path route to Trinity-Bellwoods park.

Back laneway features a two story blank wall, a truck loading dock, and a twelve foot square power transformer.

The Basic Question.  Reserve is asking the City to grant them large exceptions to our by-laws so they can build MIDRISE in our LOWRISE area.  Why would the City do this, when it would leave our business, residential, and school communities significantly worse off?

The only possible reason would be if the Official Plan's call for "intensification" in mixed-use areas like Ossington supported MIDRISE here, in law or in fact.  It doesn't.

First, the Plan along with the associated "Avenues and Mid-rise Buildings Study" calls for MIDRISE to occur on "Avenues" (broad miles-long retail corridors, like King, Queen and Dundas), which are big enough to sustain MIDRISE.  Less than two years ago, it was determined that Ossington is NOT an "Avenue", hence determined that growth on Ossington should NOT be subject to MIDRISE development.  This makes sense, since Ossington is nothing like an "Avenue", nor will it ever be.  Ossington's retail segment is too short to be a "corridor" (only 600m, from Queen to Dundas) and Ossington is too narrow to be an Avenue: at only 17.5m it is 8 feet below the minimum 20m width to be an "Avenue", and widening Ossington to 20m would require tearing down and replacing all the existing buildings, including 4 historical designation buildings).  That's not going to happen.  Plus, Avenues are supposed to be the bearers of heavy traffic: but the Ossington strip is second-lowest in traffic volume in the West End among non-Neighborhood streets.

Second, there is no need to interpret the call for intensification in mixed-use areas like Ossington as somehow requiring MIDRISE development.  Density on Ossington is nowhere near the LOWRISE limits---we could easily double, perhaps triple, the density on Ossington within the existing limits.  We have not outgrown the by-laws.

So there is no good reason for the City to permit exceptions to our zoning by-laws that would contravene the recently updated Official Plan (according to which Ossington is NOT an Avenue, and so should NOT be subject to MIDRISE development) by allowing Reserve to put MIDRISE (5 stories or more) on LOWRISE (1-4 stories) Ossington.  And the serious negative and destabilizing impacts associated with this proposal constitute a multitude of good reasons for the City to forbid any such thing.

Who's minding the store?  The Official Plan says that  "Intensification of land adjacent to neighbourhoods will be carefully controlled so that neighbourhoods are protected from negative impact. Where significant intensification of land adjacent to a Neighbourhood or Apartment Neighbourhood is proposed, Council will determine, at the earliest point in the process, whether or not a Secondary Plan, area specific zoning by-law or area specific policy will be created in consultation with the local community following an Avenue Study, or area based study" (OP 2–22).  This has not occurred.

Ultimately, we are going to have to rely on our City Officials---Planner Francis Kwashie, and Councillor Mike Layton---to directly effect the protective measures that are called for in the official plan.  We call on Planner Kwashie to acknowledge that the Official Plan's call for growth in mixed-use areas like Ossington can be answered without allowing de facto exceptions to our by-laws that would effectively convert Ossington to MIDRISE, with the ensuing destabilizing results on our business, residential, and school communities.  And we call on Councillor Layton to pledge only to support applications that KEEP OSSINGTON LOWRISE.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

News and Events of Interest

  • COMMUNITY CONSULTATION MEETING NOTIFICATION.  We finally received our notices about the June 25 Community Consultation, and guess what: the link to the Planner's Preliminary report, which includes details about the proposal and initial concerns from the planning department, is for the wrong property!  Grrrr.  We have notified City officials and requested that they ensure that a new letter is sent out asap.  Meanwhile, the correct link is here.
  • ACTION ALERT.  Speaking of the Community Consultation meeting, the letter notes that all calls and emails to either Francis Kwashie or Mike Layton will be part of the record and input into the decision making process.  Please take a few minutes to write or call both officials and make your opinion known: every call or email is a bullet in the side of this crummy proposal.
  • The Trinity Bellwoods Community Association (TBCA) is holding a meeting to discuss the 109OZ proposal, on Monday, June 18, 7–9pm, at the Trinity Bellwoods Recreation Centre (155 Crawford St).  Hearty thanks to TBCA for picking this up.  All members of Smart Growth Ossington as well as other interested parties are encouraged to attend!
  • MEETING WITH CITY OFFICIALS AND RESERVE PROPERTIES.  On 12 June SGO representatives met with Ward 19 Councillor Mike Layton and his staff (outreach assistant Tania Liu, executive assistant Michal Hay), City Planner Francis Kwashie, and principals and associates of Reserve Properties: Shane and Sheldon Fenton, planning consultant Craig Hunter, and RAW architect Roland Colthoff.

    First half of the meeting was with Mike and his staff, planner Francis; SGO reps Jessica and Benj; and Argyle Place neighbour Penny Carter.  We were impressed with Francis here, and with Mike throughout, with respect to both content and presentation; our feeling is that they are aware of what is at stake here, and are operating accordingly.

    Second half: out: Francis; in: Reserve's Sheldon and Shane Fenton; planning consultant Craig Hunter, and RAW architect Roland Colthoff. Our impression was of considerable rapport with Councillor Layton and his staff, and Mike and Francis are both sympathetic toward the "Ossington character" concept, as well as numerous specific community concerns. The reaction of the development team to our discussion of anticipated harms from their proposal was quite remarkable. They did not argue that we were wrong on the facts, nor did they argue that the harms to which we pointed were outweighed by greater good to society. Instead, they made two points: first, they self-servingly complained that any modification to the design they submitted would diminish their bottom line; second, they threatened to inflict an even worse harm on the community. Many would regard this attitude as childish.

    One other thing: Shane Fenton refused to guarantee that the 10K retail space would not be used to house a national tenant---that is, a chain store.  Chain stores on Ossington?  How hip!
  • We have been forging a variety of connections with other community groups.  Benj gave a presentation at the Trinity Bellwoods Community Association (TBCA) meeting on May 28, and they offered their full support.  Benj and Jessica attended and gave a joint presentation at the annual Active18 meeting on June 4, then met with several members of the steering committee; they also offered their full support, and we will be working with them in future.  Finally, we are meeting this week with representatives of People Plan Toronto, and also anticipate their full support.  It is encouraging to see how many people---lawyers, planners, architects, contractors, media people---are willing and able to participate in working to ensure that growth on Ossington and surround is indeed smart.
  • The popular 'Ossington Village' blog publicized Smart Growth.  We are delighted to have the support of this long-standing neighborhood advocate.
  • We've been flyering both residents and merchants, and the response has been incredibly encouraging; plus we've been having a great time meeting and talking with our business and residential compadres. Once names are added we should be looking at close to 100 members of Smart Growth Ossington!  Thanks to everyone for listening and signing up.
  • The Committee of Adjustment just struck down a Riocan proposal to stick a Walmart (or something like it) on Bathurst just south of College -- just blocks away from Kensington Market -- which would of course be 'cultural cleansing' on a breathtaking scale. (Not to mention wrecking the traffic flow from Bloor and Ossington to Queen and Spadina and beyond.) Congratulations -- and serious thanks -- to Councillor Layton for his great work on this. Of course Riocan is appealing to OMB. Fingers crossed that this preposterous idea will remain struck down.