planning study

The OCA has submitted a Heritage Conservation District nomination form for the proposed Ossington Strip district. HCD status is the ultimate in preservation, enjoyed by Queen West (University to Bathurst) and Yorkville as well as a number of neighbourhoods (including Harbord Village, Riverdale, and, who would have anticipated, Rosedale). We believe that Ossington is truly one of the most wonderfully distinctive places in Toronto, and that people know this, which is why it is such a great success as a destination district.

To do the nomination, we wrote up a detailed history of the the area; after that exercise we are even more convinced of the incredibly cool weirdness of our area. (Did you know that this was a meatpacking district until around 1900, with cattle turning left off Ossington onto Bruce, and that the Levack Block was built by a major family in the meat trade, who lived up the street from their stockyard on Givins and eventually built what is now the Maynard Nursing Home as their mansion, on the site of the 1804 house Pine Grove of the Givins family, which in 1884 was celebrated as the oldest house in Toronto, was looted by America in the War of 1812, and …)

The history is pasted in below the fold. Read More

109OZ Info Sheet

  1. Upcoming Community Council meeting info
  2. Basic facts about 109OZ
  3. Impacts on communities: school, bike, business, resident, Toronto

1. Upcoming Community Council meeting info

Date and time: Tuesday, June 18, 11:45am

Where: City Hall, 100 Queen St. West, Committee Room 1

Item number: 2013.TE25.18

Link to item notice:

Link to Direction Report mentioned in notice:

For Discussion of the implications of the Direction Report:

The recommendation is for the City to negotiate a bit, but says 6 STOREYS IS FINE. Planning is treating Ossington as if it were an “Avenue” like Dundas or Eglinton, relying partly on the “planning fiction” that 17.5m Ossington will someday be widened to 20m (the minimum “Avenue” width) which would require tearing down every building on Ossington.

Luckily, one of the primary functions of Community Council is to amend motions for submission to City Council, and it appears that Councillor Layton is going to introduce an amendment in order to support the community’s position.



1. Please call or email Mike Layton ASAP and express to him the importance of supporting the community and getting the number of storeys down on 109OZ.  Phone: 416-392-4009  Email:

2. Please attend the Community Council Meeting June 18.  A bit turnout can make all the difference (  You can either speak, give a PowerPoint Presentation, or use the Overhead Projector.  If you plan to give a Powerpoint Presentation, bring your own computer and make some backup paper printouts of your slides just in case—if there are technical difficulties, the Overhead Projector can project your printout.

3) If you cannot attend, email your comments to Community Council at, citing “2013.TE25.18 on June 18, 2013 for distribution to Community Council members” (or see link below).

Even better: DO BOTH: send in your written comments or your presentation in advance and THEN go to the meeting and deliver them in person. This page gives more information about written and delivered comments:

If attending in person, then it is best to register before 4:30 the day before, but you can also sign up at the meeting. One can submit comments or register to speak by clicking the ‘submit comments’ or ‘register’ links at the top of this page:

2. Basic info about 109OZ

  • 103-109-111 Ossington, near Argyle, centre of Ossington strip
  • 21.5m (25m with “mechanical penthouse”): 6 “official” storeys, but really height of 8-storey building. Existing zoning is 4-storeys, 14m.
  • 9 storefronts wide, occupies large footprint of large lot
  • No ground level green space
  • 86 units, no family size
  • 70 underground parking units off of Argyle Place
  • 3.9 density, existing zoning is 2.5
  • One single 12,000sqft ‘AAA’ retail space (i.e., chain store)
  • For overhead views giving sense of size, see
  • For ARRIS Strategy Studio Ossington Avenue High Street Development Review, see

3. Impacts on communities


  • 70 cars and heavy truck loading in this building
  • Argyle Place laneway mouth only 5.5m wide
  • Argyle Street only 6m wide from parking lane to curb
  • Makes for a very tight turn during morning rush across a sidewalk where children walk to school
  • Pattern of one-way streets means traffic pressure on school loading area and children’s routes to school (such as Bruce and Argyle)
  • If the endgame is the whole block goes midrise, that means ballpark 200 more cars using that laneway
  • Unit makeup is not inviting to families – doesn’t increase school vitality
  • Loss of sky views from west-facing playgrounds and classrooms
  • Increased dog urine and feces in the playground
  • Construction dust


  • Argyle Street is part of city’s Bikeway system: Argyle-Robinson Bikeway runs from Brock to Bathurst, plugging West End Bikeway “black hole”
  • Argyle Street only 6m wide from parking lane to curb for one lane of traffic and one contraflow bike lane; Argyle Place laneway mouth only 5.5m wide
  • 70 cars and heavy truck loading in this building
  • If the endgame is the whole block goes midrise, that means ballpark 200 more cars using that laneway
  • The /Ossington Avenue High Street Development Review/ calculates that growth on Ossington realistically makes for at most 1/1000 of the city’s total population target (which is more than met already anyway; and the city already has a condo glut anyway)
  • The Official Plan calls for promoting “active transport” like cycling
  • Disrupting this crucial link the Bikeway network is a far-reaching effect; the tiny gain in density can be easily recovered in a less strategic location


  • Ossington is a character area. It is 200 years old, one of Toronto’s oldest streets, and the historic center of the West End village. We should be proud of our local history rather than making everything cookie cutter.
  • People come here in part because of the great business community but also in part because it feels good as a place to hang out.
  • That is because of the century old streetscape and because it feels like a public square. In Europe, they have main streets with midrise buildings, but they also have public squares, where people go to hang out. Ossington has that same chilled out feeling. Given that it is a street rather than a square, why is that? My guess is: in both case, you have open sky views — it’s no different from going to the park.
  • You wouldn’t want to hang out on Queen at Ossington, with the Shopper’s and the Tim Horton’s. You wouldn’t want to hang out on Bay Street, or King and Shaw. Midrise is inevitably sterile and oppressive.
  • Yes, the building would mean more people. But at most 100 — divide that by the 26 restaurants & that means a drop in the bucket for you.
  • Does it seem like a good balance, to get 100 more people on the street, against disrupting the character, which draws people from around the city?


  • This is your neighbourhood. The new building is not about neighbourhood building, the environment, or respect. It is just about profit.
  • Ossington is a character area. It is 200 years old, one of Toronto’s oldest streets, and the historic center of the West End village. We should be proud of our local history rather than making everything cookie cutter.
  • This would be a looming citadel right at the heart of our neighbourhood. So long historic Trinity-Bellwoods vibe, hello ego-tripping condo stack.
  • Think of the block of three buildings to the north, with Golden Turtle/Rua Vang. This building would be more than twice as high, three times as wide, and go back twice as far. That means it is the size of *twelve* 3-storefront-wide 3-storey buildings stuck together. That might be fine on Queen or Dundas, but on Ossington that is ridiculous.
  • The community has spoken: loud, clear, multiply, and as close to with one voice as it gets. The Official Plan says they are supposed to listen.


  • You care about the environment, and so do I. You dislike auto dependence, and so do I. You like Paris, and so do I.
  • But what is great about cities is that they are not all the same, and that each city has individual parts that are different from each other. Paris has the low-rise Marais. London has Camden Town. New York has Greenwich Village and Williamsburg. And Toronto has Ossington (and Little Italy, the Annex, Kensington, Chinatown, Queen West, Queen East, Cabbagetown).
  • Ossington is 200 years old, one of Toronto’s oldest streets. It is the historic center of a West End village. It used to be where Dundas Street started, but when Dundas got integrated into the city grid about 100 years ago, Ossington got cut off. As a result, Ossington is like a time capsule. Toronto is uneven on its history. Why not make this a case where we get it right?
  • The Official Plan doesn’t say “pack in as many people into as little space as possible”. It has a lot of different priorities. Density is one, but so is preserving character, memory, history, and context. In general the OP aims to find the places where density can go beneficially, to preserve other places. Ossington seems like a clear case worth preserving if possible.
  • As the /Ossington Avenue High Street Development Review/ calculates, maxing out population on Ossington would only add 1/1000 of Toronto’s total population target.
  • Toronto has already met its population target many times over.
  • The Official Plan calls for a diversity of types of housing, noting that there is already a glut of condos. Most new population is to come from immigration, meaning families, meaning condos don’t even help.
  • There are thirteen areas with Official Plan Amendments to protect lowrise character: Kensington, Chinatown, Baldwin Village, St Joseph Cottages, Yonge-Gerrard, Church-Wellesley, Bloor-Walmer, Annex/Old Yorkville, Yorkville, Yonge-Rosedale South, Yonge-Rosedale North, Avenue-Pears, and Casa Loma. Almost all are on the subway; all are more than 1km closer to the subway than Ossington. Most have as their primary merit that they are upscale. None are West of Kensington. Ossington, a West end destination district, deserves this kind of consideration.
  • Planning law in Ontario is weird, in ways that are demanding on the community and require all decisions to be approached by the City carefully and with great judiciousness. All of us are in this together. Ossington is not designated for growth by the Official Plan, there is no policy reason to require growth on Ossington, and there is plenty of policy reason to preserve Ossington. Nevertheless, City Planning seems to have jumped the track. Why think that won’t happen in your neighbourhood real soon?

ohsdrThe OCA is very proud to announce the release of the Ossington Avenue High Street Development Review — click the image, or click here, to read it. The OAHSDR was released to the members of Community Council yesterday, and the OCA is now making it available to the general public.

The OAHSDR was prepared by Arris Strategy Studio for the OCA. The principal author of the OAHSDR is Terry Mills, BArch, Registered Professional Planner. One of Terry’s many accomplishments is establishing and running The Midtown Plan, a framework tying together the many different players with a hand in the complexity of Yonge–Eglinton. Suffice to say that Terry is a bigshot renowned for seeing the patterns in chaos.

The OAHSDR makes a great read for its sensitive description of the character of the area, especially against a background of extensive historical research. The Review proposes a certain profile for the widely discussed “109OZ” site — basically five storeys with a 28 degree angular plane. My fellow planning geeks will be engrossed for many hours.

Here is the executive summary of the OAHSDR judgements pertaining to “109OZ”:


  • It is a full-on Avenues solution in a non-Avenues context.
  • It is out of scale and character, diminishing the significance of buildings and spaces.
  • It has a character, texture and treatment that conflicts with the existing urban grain.
  • It is unsustainable, and cannot be readily replicated elsewhere on Ossington Avenue.
  • It involves setting precedents, that can only be used as parts in other types of projects.
  • It creates adverse impacts on the adjacent Neighbourhood, not currently experienced.
  • It creates undesirable conditions of overview & overshadowing on the Neighbourhood.
  • It does not pass the tests of fit, respect and improvement:
  1. interlacing into the Ossington Avenue High Street’s existing context
  2. incorporating compatibilities appropriate to future increments of development
  3. contributing to the maturation of Ossington Avenue’s streetscape, and locality
  • It does not incorporate Ossington Avenue’s memories, but rather extinguishes them.

Cover letter below the jump: Read More





… lotta action over a product no one seems to want …


They say condos are sold like salami: what counts is not the # of units but the total square footage. By OCA calculations, this project has sold 48.7% 46.0% of the residential floorplate:

… interesting the way identical units are coming back out in blocks of fours — suggests bulk purchasers may have simply walked away from the deal …

… the question is not completely straightforward to answer, but cursory examination suggests that close to the entire eastern flank of the building is back on the market

at present the west end does not have a bikeway system in any reasonable sense


an ambitious plan fixes this:


South of Harbord, the East-West options are (2) dodge car doors on College (3) cruise pleasantly up Argyle-Robinson.

The proposal for Argyle is for a “contra-flow” bike lane: in addition to the existing one-way traffic, an additional lane would run bikes the opposite direction of traffic. The Toronto Bike Lane Design Guidelines for contra-flow bike lanes look like this:


Argyle between Ossington and Givins is 6m wide thanks to the row of silver maples planted there around 2003. Argyle also at present has a parking lane. The street depicted in 2B8 is 1.3m wider than Argyle. Apparently the “absolute minimum” width for contra-flow is 1.5m (see p10). Still, 1.1m need to come from somewhere. But where!?!?!?

— ah! the solution is blindingly obvious: convert Argyle into a traffic sewer for midrise condos and chain stores!!!!!


Did we ever announce that the Ossington Visioning Study is more-or-less finalized? It seems to be: the community work group has all but tied a bow on this document, which is the one City Planning is accommodating in its Area Policy, and therefore seems to be the one with policy significance. Does this make it “finalized”? What exactly it is for something to be “finalized” is a fascinating metaphysical question, one we would be delighted to debate until the wee small hours.

If in the course of pondering this vital issue, you feel the need to come up for air, you can read this document: the “All-But-Finalized Ossington Visioning Study Planning Principles”. We think it is pretty sound and very valid. You should enjoy it.

The community spoke loud and clear, in the Visioning Process, the Petition, and in hundreds of communications to Ward 19 Councillor Mike Layton and City Planning (we just love you guys!): Keep Ossington Lowrise to preserve the cool character, stay compatible with the neighbourhood, avoid clogging our walkways and bikeways with traffic, and protect the good jobs at good wages in our light industrial buildings (click for the Community Visioning Study plan City Planning must take as input).

City Planning agreed … sorta. On their first draft of an Official Plan Amendment, Ossington stays lowrise … EXCEPT a carveout for King West North Area 2 (east side of Ossington, Bruce to Argyle) … coincidentally, the part real estate speculators want for midrise (click for the first draft Official Plan Amendment from City Planning—the Area 2 carveout is principle f(ii) on the sixth-to-last page).

Eh? Keep Ossington Lowrise = Keep Area 2 Lowrise: the carveout for real estate speculators is ridiculous not sound planning.

Make some noise. City Planning is taking input on their first draft through January 31.

We’ve made it easy for you to badger express your opinion to Ward 19 Councillor Mike Layton and City Planning, either by using our pre-filled text or with your own message. Keep Area 2 Lowrise, yo.

Two ways to insta-email Ward 19 Councillor Mike Layton and City Planning:

  1. click to go through your mailer
  2. cut-paste the following text into the comment form below:

    Dear Councillor Layton and City Planning,

    I write to oppose Planning’s draft Area 2 principles, applying to the east side of Ossington between Argyle and Bruce.

    The goals supporting the Area 1 principles applying to the rest of Ossington—preserving Ossington’s character and protecting its neighborhood communities—also apply to Area 2.

    Area 2 is at the centre of the Ossington Strip.  Replacing the nice brick buildings here with a block of midrises would undermine Ossington’s character and harm 50 residences on Givins, Argyle, and Bruce. The draft propposal violates sound planning principles putting higher buildings at the perimeter and not the core of a lowrise area.

    Area 2 contains valuable light industrial uses that provide good jobs at good wages for many in the community, add daytime life to the streets, and are a crucial part of Ossington’s character and history.

    Area 2 abuts an important pedestrian and bike corridor, for kids walking to Givins-Shaw elementary school and cyclists using the Argyle-Robinson Bikeway. Midrises in Area 2 will bring 100s of cars and trucks across the path of these travelers.

    Preserving Ossington doesn’t mean trading good jobs at good wages for condos, doesn’t mean trading in unique old buildings for generic big new buildings that dominate over the whole neighbourhood from its very centre, and doesn’t mean undermining the safety of kids and cyclists.

    We can triple density on Ossington within the lowrise limits. Put the community before real estate speculators: Keep Ossington Lowrise = Keep Area 2 Lowrise.

    Sincerely yours,