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Been a while.

Sad when there’s a legacy website with no axn since 2017. Mostly the action is out IRL, doing things and making it happen. On the internets, there is rich chatter on the fb group, perpetually ongoing.

Lately we’ve been up to the following:

  • I’m doing a Jane’s Walk!!!! Super excited. Title: ‘Empire, war, meatpacking: Ossington’s psychogeography’. For the back story check out my On the Ossington Strip.
  • The Clocktower Project is moving forward!!! Old Fire Hall #9 at 16 Ossington, currently the Western Men’s Detox, with its ‘pilgrim hat’ as made famous by the great Julie Lasky, is the Ossington icon in waiting. OCA is partnering with the City, Hullmark, and the Ossington BIA to get that clock back up on there.
  • We believe in groups within groups within groups: this is how individuals project agency and connect in local and progressively more global structures. The OCA is a charter member of the West Side Community Council, an umbrella group stretching from University to Roncesvalles with a baker’s dozen members. The WSCC in turn is a member of Ontario Place for All, which is about promoting OnPlace to what its promise has always been. One thing we are contributing on this behalf is some constitutional jurisprudence, in the form of the Public Trust Doctrine, the idea that some times, governmental control over lands and resources is not *ownership* but *trusteeship*, where all of us are beneficiaries. This is a big deal in the US, and we are promoting this as a Canadian concept.
  • The BIA is awesome and has an awesome plan to beautify, rock out, and funk up the Ossington Streetscape. We love it and you will too. Now it needs to happen! OCA is putting its back behind this. Let’s make it happen!

See you on the second Thursday of the month!!!! (West Nbhd House, Oss/Dds, 7–8:30, followed by PUB NITE!!!!!!) — no worries about protocol or rules or whatever, we are here to empower you, so show up and get like empowered and stuff. Lates!!! 

The 13 July meeting elected a new OCA Board for the next couple years:

  • President: Jessica Wilson (Argyle St: previous VP)
  • VP: Rachel Horvath (Givins: previous Treasurer)
  • VP2: Jennifer Horvath (Givins: previous Corr Sec)
  • Treasurer: Lou Scott (Givins: previously, Director)
  • Corresponding Secretary: Benj Hellie (Argyle St: previous Rec Sec)
  • Director: Shawn Winsor (Givins: previous President)
  • Director: Karen Williams (WilliamsCraig Design: ‘Storefront Member’)
  • Director: Henry Rego (‘Friendly Member’)
  • Director: Karen Sampogna (Ossington Avenue)

Thanks heaps to the outgoing Board; and extra-special thanks to fresh faces Karen, Henry, and Karen!

President Wilson also struck a Steering Committee, which is poised to take on a newly dynamic role in the OCA:

  • Ilona Zaremba (Argyle St)
  • Rob Corkum (Argyle St)
  • Alison Bruce (Halton)
  • Leea Puntanen (Rolyat)
  • Bruce Van Dieten (Argyle St)
  • Meg Marshall (Ossington BIA)

Thanks heaps to the folks of Steering: in particular, big welcome to Meg, who has recently come aboard with our fantastic BIA: we are stoked about working with Meg and cementing our relationship with this fellow neighbourhood institution—big stuff is coming up the pike: more to come, very soon. (Also, special acknowledgement to Rob, who has returned after a much-needed break: Rob was the inaugural Treasurer, and oversaw the spending of like $70K! Hey Rob, where did it all go? —He can answer that!)

I spruced up the logo!

Untitled

 

Two quick points:

  1. Regarding the West Queen West HCD: we won! The segment from Shaw to Dufferin will be included in the HCD.
  2. The slate for the July 13, 2017 Executive Board Election is:
  • President: Jessica Wilson
  • Vice President: Rachel Horvath
  • Second VP: Jennifer Horvath
  • Treasurer: Lou Scott
  • Recording Secretary: [vacant]
  • Corresponding Secretary: Benj Hellie
  • Director: Karen Williams
  • Director: Henry Rego
  • Director: Shawn Winsor
  • Director: Karen Sampogna

 

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!

PLANNING PROCESS HEADS-UP:

Starting this week, City Planning is holding a series of open houses/public feedback meetings on the ‘Development Permit System’ (DPS), a pro-growth fast-track (45-day) development approval process which combines zoning amendment, minor variance, and site-plan processes. Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat said that the DPS would be a “fundamental shift” in how planning is done in Toronto. For City info and meeting dates, see the RHS column here:
http://www1.toronto.ca/wps/portal/contentonly?vgnextoid=3b2cd9e27ac93410VgnVCM10000071d60f89RCRD&vgnextfmt=default
Please try to attend at least one of the meetings, and encourage others you know to attend or otherwise weigh in on this significant initiative.

Details for the downtown meeting one week from today are as follows:

Saturday, March 22
Toronto Reference Library
789 Yonge St, Toronto
Open House: 10:30am to 12:30pm
Public Meeting: 12:30 – 2:30pm

Opinionated overview:

The DPS is being pushed as a pro-active, area-based alternative to site-by-site planning. Sounds great, right? But there are concerns about the (largely untested) DPS process. The 45-day timeline is made possible by means of “plug-and-chug” performance-based by-laws, which necessarily elide nuances of site-specific context. The subsumption of the minor variance process means that areas under a DPS will automatically get “up-zoned”—and that could just be the beginning of the “reset” in zoning that City Planning decides the target area should undergo. After a DPS by-law is passed for an area, then for 5 years there is no requirement for public notice or consultation for any development application, and residents and other third parties lose (while developers retain) their right to appeal specific application decisions to the OMB; inclining the process in the developer’s favor. Removal of public rights of consult and appeal is especially problematic given the uncertainty associated with specific applications of the performance-based bylaws, and the possibility of Section 37-style “tradeoffs” for increased height or density. The short timeline means that DPS decisions will typically be delegated to Planning staff—hence not just the public but their representatives are effectively removed from site-based planning in their communities. Moreover, there are existing pro-active area-based planning processes (e.g., Area Studies and associated Official Plan Amendments, as we just got for Ossington) that do not involve removal of public rights of consultation and appeal. One might also ask: what’s the big rush in implementing this “fundamental shift”? Just 4 open house/feedback meetings for the entire GTA—really?

Further information is available at the following links:

Please feel free to get in touch with any questions.

Best wishes,
Jessica

November 16 was a historic day for Ossington!

Ossington is now at the top level—with Kensington, Chinatown, Yorkville, the Annex, Church-Wellesley—of Toronto’s places with fully recognized and protected character.

City Council amended Toronto’s Official Plan—the legal document which directs what should, can, and can’t be built, all over the city—to now discuss Ossington specifically. (Areas like Kensington and just a few others have that recognition.)

Now the Official Plan has hard, specific, legal regulations for buildings on Ossington. (Regulations that *have to* be followed—because developers will never get a “waiver” from the OMB.)

The new regulations are pretty darn good (read them here)—some hilites:

* Retail small for local business, with no shops bigger than Böhmer (we love Böhmer!—it’s just for comparison of the size)

* Jobs and daytime life on the street, with upper floor offices and workspaces

* Lowrise, with 4 storeys on 7/8ths of Ossington, option to 5 in “Area 2”

But as important is the principle: you all have always known Ossington was great—now it has the seal of approval that will keep it alive, thriving, and exciting: and let Ossington be Ossington and do what it does.

This is all thanks to all of us—hard work, dedication, commitment, passion; seeing the good in the offbeat and knowing the impossible had to happen.

(A big shoutout is due to Mike Layton, who always did exactly the right thing at the right time—and to the hard-working folks at City Planning, who were sensitive and wise: who listened to what we were saying and heard; looked at what we showed them and saw.)