Letter to Jennifer Keesmaat

Dear Chief Planner Keesmaat,

In your letter to Jessica Wilson of 13 February, you state that the area-specific Official Plan policy for the ‘Ossington Strip’ will need to recognize that /Mixed Use Areas/ should provide for growth. The attached graphic shows that the recognized provision for growth necessary for an area-specific Official Plan policy is compatible with a restriction of new development to the low-rise level.


The attached graphic shows also that such a restriction has been imposed in 13 other area-specific policies in the Toronto-East York district. Five of these prevail in what are, arguably, Toronto’s most culturally or otherwise significant districts (174 Yonge-Dundas; 211 Yorkville; 197 Kensington; 200 Chinatown; 155 Church-Wellesley); two prevail in the bohemia of decades past (334 Bloor/Annex; 199b Baldwin Village); one preserves a quaint half-block (164 St Joseph Cottages); the remaining five prevail in areas of long-term fashionability among the upper classes (231 Yonge/Rosedale (N); 210 Yonge/Rosedale (S); 198 Annex/Old Yorkville; 199a Avenue-Pears; 264 Casa Loma). By contrast, despite the long-term cultural dynamism of the ‘West End’ (Old Toronto south of Dupont, Bathurst to Roncesvalles), no such restriction prevails anywhere in the West End.

The attached graphic shows finally that, as the geographic ‘hub’ of the West End and, for nearly a decade, the West End’s gold standard and central meeting-place, the Ossington Strip is unequalled in its significance for this dynamism. The Official Plan valorizes this sort of cultural dynamism at 2-8 and 3-32, and promises it protection in 2.2.1P2b and 3.5.2P5. Such protection for the Ossington Strip is presumably at least as warranted as that prevailing in various elite promenades and relics of old bohemia.

We urge City Planning to at last take up the crucial issue of culture as this process rolls to its end. In our view, Chief Planner, you face a choice about the legacy you will leave for Toronto: you can by neglect permit free enterprise to steamroll what is genuinely lively and alluring about this city; or you can follow the past Planners who protected those areas of cultural and historical significance that we now appreciate as our city’s greatest treasures.

Benj Hellie
Ossington Community Association (Corporation)

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