The 2015 OCA Officers election took place at the upcoming Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 4 March. Here is the new Exec Board:

President: Shawn Winsor
VP: Jessica Wilson
Treasurer: Rachel Horvath
Corresponding Secretary: Jennifer Horvath
Recording Secretary: Benj Hellie
Director: Stephen Colville-Reeves
Director: Robert Wasserman

Toronto’s Official Plan says that our residential streets are supposed to remain physically stable, with new development *preserving the existing character*. But the City has recently changed residential street zoning so as to allow vertical duplexes—two side-by-side units on a single lot—in a way that is encouraging destabilizing overbuilding. Developers in our area are having a field day with the new permission, buying a single normal-size house, tearing it down, and building a “mega-house” containing two units, each the size of a large semi. The developer then condominiumizes the units and sells them separately for massive profit (1M-1.2M each). Concerns are: overbuilding/boxing in neighbours, failure to preserve street character, decreased affordability, increased property taxes. The OCA fought to get this meeting—the only one planned for this important change. Please attend and find out how we can prevent destabilizing back-door intensification of our residential streets.

Location: West Neighbourhood House (formerly St. Christopher House, 248 Ossington, corner of Ossington and Dundas)

Time: 6-8pm

Hosted by: Councillor Mike Layton and City Planning

Here’s a link to the Facebook event page.

Here’s the 2-page flyer for the event: vertical-splits-final

Quiet around here lately, eh?

Life continues apace, however. Some updates:

  • The fun!raiser was a massive success: our chanteuses sang beautifully, DJ Om Echidna spun galactically, and the ever-so-many goodies and servicies from local biz and artists literally FLEW off the auction block. In short: a good time was had by all, especially the OCA Treasurer! … and did I mention Mike Layton not only told a couple excellent jokes, successfully motivated the crowd to dig deep, and even kicked in an octet of Toronto’s most expensive artisanal pickle jars???
  • The Ossington Heritage Conservation District is back on track. Walkarounds should be rolling out soon! The OCA is putting together a glossy book with lotsa pictures and stuff we made up detailed historical researches about the emergence of our amazing area! In case you spent late Summer and much of Autumn on Pluto, you can get the NYTimes’s take on this zone of great weirdness right here. Probably pretty soon I will post teaser pages!!!!!
  • The Area Study for Eastern West Queen West is going down starting this Sattidy, and by that I mean TOMORROW (check the time stamp before rushing out to hit the bricks with City Planners and their groupies concerned and engaged neighbours). Word on the street is this put the kibbosh on knocking down the cute Brookfield–Fennings block for condos. (I tell you I *knew* something was in the works down there when I saw all those signs of property turnover: in my biz, it is mighty good to have a doggie, keeps you pounding the pavement.)

Sayonara, homeses!

Fantastic story on the area in NYT Home and Garden section, in Julie Lasky’s ‘Four Square Blocks’ series, ‘Between a loft and a hard place’. Some highlights”

First came the manor houses, then the mental hospital, then the stockyards. By the end of the 19th century, the part of Toronto known today as Queen West had had more reversals of fortune than an entire season of “Dallas” (the original or the new version).

That was before industry and immigration billowed in the 20th century, before this neighborhood west of downtown grew seedy and unpredictable, before a gangland double murder was committed in a karaoke bar in 2003.

And long before the poles reversed again, and Queen West became one of the most appealing places in Toronto. […]

Despite these cliches of gentrification, the neighborhood is like no other. It has charming exaggerations: a retired Victorian fire station (now a drug treatment facility) with a tower like a pilgrim hat […]

“This is probably the most fertile creative area in the city right now,” […]

It is also one of the oldest. In the late 18th century, Queen Street was known as Lot Street, after the narrow 99-acre parcels that John Graves Simcoe, the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, bestowed on his military confederates as a way to create a loyal landed aristocracy.

By 1818 a manor house called Brookfield, the estate of the Denison family, stood at the northwest corner of present-day Queen and Ossington, where the Canadian film director Atom Egoyan opened Camera, a screening room and bar, 186 years later. Directly south, the Provincial Lunatic Asylum was opened in 1850 on the current site of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health.

As lot owners sold off their lands, and the area became populated and industrialized, the parcels crumbled into small blocks with little coherence. They are “helter skelter,” said Benj Hellie, the spokesman for the Ossington Community Association, which has pushed to have the neighborhood declared a heritage conservation district. In his proposal, Mr. Hellie, who is also a philosophy professor at the University of Toronto, described cattle being driven from Ossington along tiny Bruce Street in the 19th century on their way to the slaughterhouse.

The application for heritage status was recently turned down, Mr. Hellie said, on the grounds that the district was “not sufficiently intact.” In some ways, his proposal can be read as a memorial to the many neighborhood buildings that have been demolished and the historical layers buried. The oldest existing structures he identified on Ossington appear to date from no earlier than 1871. One is a modest shingled house at No. 91, now home of Crywolf.

Still, the neighborhood throbs with historical echoes. Not two blocks north of Bruce Street, where cattle marched to their doom, is Côte de Boeuf, a butcher that provides meat to Union restaurant, a sister business at 72 Ossington. The Candy Factory Lofts, on the south side of Queen, east of Shaw, is a relic of local industry, as is the 1970s former textile factory that houses the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, or Mocca, diagonally northwest.