The Ontario Municipal Board hearing for the “109OZ” proposal ran from 5 to 15 November 2013 — eight business days because Remembrance Day interposed.

The Applicant for the “109OZ” proposal had appealed on the grounds that the City had failed to decide on the proposal within the statutory 120 day deadline (the appeal was about 150 days after the application; everyone knows that 120 days is too little for the City to carry out other legally mandated duties, so it is customary to wait over a year before this kind of appeal).

City Council had directed that any settlement would have to include all parties to the case: the OCA, the City, and the Appellant; and that the City would remain in opposition unless there was a settlement.

The Appellant had advanced certain proposals that, in the view of the OCA Negotiation Steering Committee, did not adequately respond to the very strong community mandate to Keep Ossington Lowrise — and to conserve Ossington’s great historic character, juice its vibrant business community, respect the adjacent residents, and protect local schoolchildren, pedestrians, and cyclists.

The OCA advanced to the Appellant a proposal that the Steering Committee regarded as going a long way for these goals, while also including various creative out-of-the-box features that (though profitable for developers and good for communities) are blocked by various hamhanded City regulations and are therefore unattainable in circumstances outside an OMB settlement. It got zero traction — which did not surprise me, inasmuch as the Appellant seems to have been fixated on a six storey building from the start.

The adjudicating OMB Member was Jason Chee-Hing (who had in 2011 approved the settlement at 41 Ossington).

The order of proceedings went: Appellant calls their witnesses; City calls theirs; OCA calls ours; closing arguments in that order with Appellant getting the last word.

Appellant was represented by David Bronskill and called as witnesses J Craig Hunter (a planner), Anne McIlroy (an urban designer who oversaw the production of the famous /Avenues and Mid-rise Buildings Study/), David Bouwsma (who uses a CAD program to make pictures of where a hypothetical building would cast shadows on various days and times), and Alun Owen (who counts cars and pedestrians crossing various places at various times, snaps pictures of trucks making tight turns makes speculative estimates of when people would use cars and trucks for a hypothetical building, and uses a CAD program to make pictures of vehicles of various sizes making tight turns).

City was represented by Amanda Hill and called as witnesses Franco Romano (an independent outside planner) and Ran Chen (an urban designer from City Planning).

OCA was represented by Charles Campbell and called as witnesses Terry Mills (a planner who wrote the /Ossington Avenue High Street Development Review/, Arris Strategy Studios), Thomas Rees (City Planning), Olga Ferreira (our neighbour on Givins), and Jessica Wilson (OCA President).

A few Participants also spoke: Penny Carter (our neighbour on Argyle Place), the Coalition of Residents’ and Ratepayers’ Associations (incarnated in Eileen Denny, CORRA Vice Chair), and [***].

The Appellant took up the first four days. The City called its witnesses on Tuesday and Wednesday of the second week; Wednesday morning was set aside for Participants. OCA called witnesses on Thursday. Closing arguments were presented on Friday the 15th.

Beyond these sparse generalities, an immense amount of detail remains to be reported. I confine myself to illustrative anecdotes, the flow of procedural skulduggery, amusing zings, and potentially important moments.

Bronskill’s opening statement was intended to suggest that we are nuts and should be ignored while City and Appellant work things out responsibly.

The first witnesses, Craig Hunter and Anne McIlroy, generally acknowledged that the street has distinctive character in large part contributed by the predominance of two- and three-storey heritage potential buildings. Hunter also acknowledged that the buildings across the street were unlikely to be demolished any time soon. McIlroy, who recounted how miserable the apartments of her hip youth were by comparison with today’s more advanced apartments, was more optimistic that they would be demolished soon.

Bouwsma’s primary contribution was the concept of a ‘shadow increment’ depicted as a bright yellow patch and constituted by the difference between the proposed building and the mereological sum of (i) an as-of-right (but, as Amanda Hill pointed out, Site Plan Approval-unfriendly) “donut” building and (ii) the angular plane envelope described in City Planning’s problematic May 18 rejection report. Campbell exposed Bouwsma’s qualification to pronounce only on what a certain shadow would be and not on whether that shadow would be OK.

Owen’s testimony was notable for its neglect to assess the traffic impacts of development of all /Area 2/ at the scale proposed. Owen thought that was OK because the traffic isn’t too high yet; when the building where the traffic is too high gets proposed, then it will be turned back. Needless to say, the impacts Owen considered were only incremental impacts, and he proposed no absolute threshold. Also amusing was the revelation that Owen’s car counters had been snoozing on the job.

At this point, late Friday afternoon, the procedural skulduggery — not entirely unexpected — rolled out. The Appellant had changed the proposal! The new one made certain inconsequential modifications to the height and massing and gave City Urban Design extensive control over the facade at Site Plan Approval! Now suddenly it is OK with Romano and Chen!

(Chen, no surprise perhaps. But Romano? His witness statement had trashed the height and massing as grossly out of scale. Drop the height by 7% and the massing by 0.5% and now its OK?)

The big tricksy plan to isolate the community is rolling out! Oh noes! What are we gonna do?

Two things: ensure that the direction of Council to oppose the proposal absent any settlement would be respected; ensure that we would bring to the stand Thomas Rees, City Planning’s author of the Ossington Planning Study and proposed Area Specific Official Plan Amendment.

Tuesday morning was taken up with procedural issues: the new plans were presented and Campbell requested (a) an adjournment and (b) that Thomas Rees would be subpoenaed as our witness. The adjournment was refused but the addition of Rees was granted.

Hill also asked some perfunctory questions of Romano and Chen.

Tuesday afternoon, Campbell cross-examined Romano. Romano acknowledged that the new proposal was not consequentially different from the old and that he thought the old proposal was grossly out of scale with the ‘existing context’ — the buildings that are there now. The new proposal is OK, however — because it is in line with the ‘planned context’, which emerged after he filed his witness statement. Namely, the proposed OPA. But the OPA limits to five storeys in /Area 2/? Yeah well six, five, what’s the difference!

My impression was that Romano’s line of reasoning was the object of considerable puzzlement.

I wasn’t there on Wednesday. Neither was Romano, who had booked a trip out of the country starting Wednesday for the rest of the week. My recollection is that Mr Chee-Hing found that decision somewhat anomalous.

Thursday Terry Mills was back on the stand (apparently Campbell had put Mills in chief on Wednesday afternoon), under cross by Bronskill. Mills’s vision of a below 18m building was getting a lot of traction, as were Mills’s concerns about the capacity of the laneway.

Olga Ferreira gave a vivid and clever testimony about the centrality to the community of the Givins vegetable gardens, the constraints on the laneway, and the natural concerns about backyard amenity with 40-some balconies more or less across the street.

Tom Rees kicked major butt. He was unflappable on the importance of preserving Ossington’s character and heritage, on the incompatibility of a six-storey building with that aim, and on the fact that /Mixed-Use Areas/ are not an OP focus for intensification.

Jessica Wilson also kicked major butt. Bronskill attempted to show her up as an ingnant amateur planning fancier, but got outsmarted: on the issue of where the OP says growth is required in general /Mixed-Use Areas/, she got him to reveal as his justification a passage which no planner had ever before mentioned — thereby tipping his hand to Campbell’s Associate Laura Bowman who would go on to write up a killer factum overnight. Bronskill also attempted to show up Wilson as, like, disrespectful or something? I didn’t get what he was trying to do as he read into evidence Wilson’s FB post criticizing Hill’s limited enthusiasm in pursuing the Council direction to oppose the Appeal. Astonishingly — though Bronskill did not read it out loud — the printed post concluded “right now the OMB is our new best friend”. Wow!

Friday morning Bowman showed up with a killer factum — by a huge margin the best thing I’ve read on the law of this stuff — while Bronskill had drank some wine and turned in early. Accordingly, while Bronskill’s summary statement was a bunch of technical legal stuff and debating sophism, Campbell drove home an awesome Jimmy Stewart-like speech on principles. (Hill, by contrast, was reduced to ‘commending’ the opinions of Romano and Chen and getting grilled on whether the City was or wasn’t opposed to the proposal. Friday morning was also marked by extensive questioning of Hunter by Mr Chee-Hing about laneway capacity.) Campbell’s focus was on (i) the extent to which ‘expert’ trumps ‘lay’ opinion on whether an impact is OK, and if so what the point of community consultation is; (ii) the precedential issue about /MU/ versus /Avenue/; (iii) the ‘burden of proof’ question regarding whether Appellant has justified all the requested overage.

At the end, Mr Chee-Hing announced that his decision would be forthcoming in the future — and not the near future.

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?

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)

Just got back from an excellent meeting with City Planning (Tom Rees, Deanne Mighton, Lynda Macdonald); Chris Walker, Benj Hellie, and Rob Corkhum also in attendance. Tom went over the Visioning Process Principles one by one, discussing how these are, to the best of Planning’s ability, to be incorporated into the Ossington Official Plan Amendment.

The main issue still under deliberation concerns the Area 2 mid-rise block. We discussed a variety of concerns with such a block, including that it would undermine built form coherence, disrupt the character of the business district, bring large and small chain stores in its wake, bring shadow/blocking of sky/overlook to dozens of residential properties, bring increased traffic and associated decrease in safety to pedestrians and bicyclists, encourage loss of industrial uses and associated employment, etc. We also talked about why the community has taken there to be a real difference between 4 storeys and higher.

Lynda Macdonald expressed that the community’s communications had raised to salience the distinctive character of Ossington, impacting Planning’s decision to (in the draft OPA principles) keep 7/8 of Ossington low-rise, and again in response to community communications they are now carefully revisiting the Area 2 principles.

All this was very encouraging, and Planning’s letting us know that our voices have and are being heard is empowering news indeed. This should really light a fire under anyone who has not yet weighed in about the Area 2 principles: IF YOU HAVEN’T WRITTEN IN YET, PLEASE DO SO ASAP. HELP US HELP THE COMMUNITY—WRITE PLANNING NOW AT

I (Jessica Wilson, representing the OCA) went to a pre-application meeting hosted by Layton at City Hall yesterday in re the development of the lands currently housing MOCCA (the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art), the Edward Day Gallery, Mutt Animation Studio, as well as the character building to the east currently housing the Clint Roesnisch Gallery.

Alan Saskin, President of UrbanCorp, and Prishram Jain from TACT Architecture presented their current proposal. Saskin is the developer behind Westside Lofts and several other large developments in the Queen W. Triangle, Liberty Village, and elsewhere across the city; Jain has worked with UrbanCorp and other companies on these sorts of buildings, and in particular is the designer of 2 Gladstone, going up across the street from the Gladstone Hotel.

Anyway, to the proposal.  Where there is presently a primary art and culture node in the West End, a beckoning opening into a museum of contemporary art abutted by two of Toronto’s best art galleries, a stage for Nuit Blanche and other events, framed by sky and a huge ever-changing mural—is now envisioned a 9-storey, 26.9m (really, 31.9m, with mechanical penthouse), 151-unit mid-rise condominium building, currently designed with only a single large retail space, spanning more than 1/3 of the block between Shaw and Givins (width of 9 average storefronts) and going twice as deep, involving a gesture at brick vernacular for the first couple of stories before rising up in typical glass box fashion.

The height and density limits—not just the existing height limit of 18m, but the performance standards of the Avenues and Mid-rise Building Study (AMRBS), are grossly violated, left and right.  So, for example, the AMRBS is adamant that the height of a mid-rise on an Avenue (which Queen is) cannot exceed the width of the street right-of-way (ROW).  Queen’s ROW is 20m; the proposed building is 26.9m/31.9m, going beyond the AMRBS guidelines by two additional storeys (this in an area where the average building is 2 storeys).  The building crashes through the back and especially the front angular planes.  There is no side-wise stepping back to adjacent residences on Shaw, who will be looking at the side of a building 5 storeys high.  There are no family-sized units (115 units are 1BR of around 700sqft, around 29 are 2BR of around 820sqft).  No ground level green space, no courtyard.  No cross-ventilation in the majority of the tiny single-window units.  (As Ken Greenberg said, “These are essentially extended-stay hotels”.)  Due to laneway constraints, there will be a driveway for the hundred or so cars and service vehicles with entry and exit onto Queen.  Both the built form and the inevitable chain retail will be grossly out of keeping with the distinctive independent retail old-school character of W Queen W business district (recently deemed the 18th most “stylish” business district in the world).  Etc., etc.

Moreover, some of the most serious potential impacts were not even mentioned or discussed.  At the meeting, the architect’s drawings just showed affected properties to the east and west of the property.  I was concerned about the impact on the residential properties in these locations, but I just looked at the location on Google Maps and see that the primary residential impact concerns properties to the North.  Nearly every house on the east side of Givins and the west side of Shaw, South of Givins-Shaw school, will be affected by way of shadow, blocking of sky, and/or loss of privacy by (I estimate) close to 100 balconies overlooking their backyards.  The shadow impact will be especially bad since the proposed building is directly to the South of these properties.

The architect’s response to height and density overage concerns was to highlight the depth and large size of the lot (though why a large lot should be allowed to have a larger building that will then even more intrude on the surrounding low-rise landscape is unclear to me) and to say that the 1-1 height-ROW mid-rise guidelines reflect the supposition that there are buildings on both sides of the street (in the present case a CAMH park is across the street).  In response to concerns about affecting character his response was to note that W. Queen W. is not an officially designated “character area”.  As noted, the primary impact on residents on Givins and Shaw was not even mentioned.  The developer’s typical response to requests to make changes in some way responding to the various concerns was to say “No, we’re not going to do that”.  And though Saskin didn’t make the sort of overt threats that Shelley Fenton of Reserve Properties did at our first meeting with him, Saskin did make sure to say that even though he (admittedly) had been saying ‘No’ to everything, he might be able to adjust here and there (e.g., with respect to the retail space—an easy “compromise”); but if he ran into too much opposition, he would find it more convenient to just go to the OMB and “take his chances” on the design as it stands.

So, here we go again.  A building in blatant non-conformity to both existing and planned context, completely alien to the character of the area, that will clearly negatively impact dozens of residents, a developer and architect who are quite used to getting their way, and City officials that, if past and recent history is any indication, are completely ineffective at maintaining the integrity of our long-standing cultural, residential and business district communities.  “Art and Design District”?  Not for long.