Action alerts


Please direct inquiries to Ossington Community Association Corresponding Secretary Benj Hellie


Thanks an enormous amount to all of the fantastic work done by so many of you under the SGO umbrella. SGO got the community through the first stage of this process with dramatic and smashing success. The time has come to regularize operations, and so today SGO will wind its activities down, freeze this group, and transfer its intellectual property to the Ossington Community Association.

Again, thanks enormously to each and every one of you. You helped set the stage for the next phase, and it could not have happened without you.


The Ossington Community Association warmly invites each and every one of you to join with it. We are on the web at We have an open Facebook Group, and I hope to see there in the near future all those who have taken an interest in the project of SGO.

The object of the OCA is to promote the flourishing of the neighbourhood -- from Crawford to Dovercourt, above Queen up to Harrison -- and its commercial zones: the Ossington Strip and the Dundas Bend within the neighbourhood.

The OCA is fully inclusive: any resident of the neighbourhood may become a member; we welcome local storefronts to our membership; and we extend a hand also to friends of the neighbourhood.

The OCA is working toward operation under a fully Robert's Rules-compliant organizational structure. The OCA was chartered on 3 July 2012 and is operating for its initial phase under provisional bylaws.

Over the coming months, the OCA has two principal projects. The first is to roll out a membership drive. Once a sufficient membership base has been attracted, the OCA will hold a fully general meeting and begin progress toward an election of officers in full compliance with Robert's Rules.

The second project is to represent the neighbourhood and its commercial zones in regard to pending development issues. The OCA has inherited the intellectual property of Smart Growth for Ossington, which has wound down its operations.

To maintain operational continuity, the charter meeting elected a provisional Executive Board: President Jessica Wilson, VP JP Manoux, Treasurer Rob Corkum, Corresponding Secretary (aka Communications Director) Benj Hellie, and Recording Secretary Scot Blythe, as well as Directors Jamie Angell (from the business community) and Daphne Ballon (as friend of the neighbourhood). Two Directorates remain open, as does the VVP position, as do 21 seats on the Steering Committee.

The OCA extends a warm welcome to all residents and storefronts in the neighbourhood and its commercial zones and to all friends of the Ossington Community.

Let's keep talking about Ossington.

Write city officials about 109OZ: Mike Layton, Councillor; Francis Kwashie, City Planner
Basic facts about 109OZ are here.
Join us on Facebook; follow us on Twitter; watch this video documenting our community's fantastic response to the current crisis

Scroll down to see posts.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

News and Events of Interest

  • COMMUNITY CONSULTATION MEETING NOTIFICATION.  We finally received our notices about the June 25 Community Consultation, and guess what: the link to the Planner's Preliminary report, which includes details about the proposal and initial concerns from the planning department, is for the wrong property!  Grrrr.  We have notified City officials and requested that they ensure that a new letter is sent out asap.  Meanwhile, the correct link is here.
  • ACTION ALERT.  Speaking of the Community Consultation meeting, the letter notes that all calls and emails to either Francis Kwashie or Mike Layton will be part of the record and input into the decision making process.  Please take a few minutes to write or call both officials and make your opinion known: every call or email is a bullet in the side of this crummy proposal.
  • The Trinity Bellwoods Community Association (TBCA) is holding a meeting to discuss the 109OZ proposal, on Monday, June 18, 7–9pm, at the Trinity Bellwoods Recreation Centre (155 Crawford St).  Hearty thanks to TBCA for picking this up.  All members of Smart Growth Ossington as well as other interested parties are encouraged to attend!
  • MEETING WITH CITY OFFICIALS AND RESERVE PROPERTIES.  On 12 June SGO representatives met with Ward 19 Councillor Mike Layton and his staff (outreach assistant Tania Liu, executive assistant Michal Hay), City Planner Francis Kwashie, and principals and associates of Reserve Properties: Shane and Sheldon Fenton, planning consultant Craig Hunter, and RAW architect Roland Colthoff.

    First half of the meeting was with Mike and his staff, planner Francis; SGO reps Jessica and Benj; and Argyle Place neighbour Penny Carter.  We were impressed with Francis here, and with Mike throughout, with respect to both content and presentation; our feeling is that they are aware of what is at stake here, and are operating accordingly.

    Second half: out: Francis; in: Reserve's Sheldon and Shane Fenton; planning consultant Craig Hunter, and RAW architect Roland Colthoff. Our impression was of considerable rapport with Councillor Layton and his staff, and Mike and Francis are both sympathetic toward the "Ossington character" concept, as well as numerous specific community concerns. The reaction of the development team to our discussion of anticipated harms from their proposal was quite remarkable. They did not argue that we were wrong on the facts, nor did they argue that the harms to which we pointed were outweighed by greater good to society. Instead, they made two points: first, they self-servingly complained that any modification to the design they submitted would diminish their bottom line; second, they threatened to inflict an even worse harm on the community. Many would regard this attitude as childish.

    One other thing: Shane Fenton refused to guarantee that the 10K retail space would not be used to house a national tenant---that is, a chain store.  Chain stores on Ossington?  How hip!
  • We have been forging a variety of connections with other community groups.  Benj gave a presentation at the Trinity Bellwoods Community Association (TBCA) meeting on May 28, and they offered their full support.  Benj and Jessica attended and gave a joint presentation at the annual Active18 meeting on June 4, then met with several members of the steering committee; they also offered their full support, and we will be working with them in future.  Finally, we are meeting this week with representatives of People Plan Toronto, and also anticipate their full support.  It is encouraging to see how many people---lawyers, planners, architects, contractors, media people---are willing and able to participate in working to ensure that growth on Ossington and surround is indeed smart.
  • The popular 'Ossington Village' blog publicized Smart Growth.  We are delighted to have the support of this long-standing neighborhood advocate.
  • We've been flyering both residents and merchants, and the response has been incredibly encouraging; plus we've been having a great time meeting and talking with our business and residential compadres. Once names are added we should be looking at close to 100 members of Smart Growth Ossington!  Thanks to everyone for listening and signing up.
  • The Committee of Adjustment just struck down a Riocan proposal to stick a Walmart (or something like it) on Bathurst just south of College -- just blocks away from Kensington Market -- which would of course be 'cultural cleansing' on a breathtaking scale. (Not to mention wrecking the traffic flow from Bloor and Ossington to Queen and Spadina and beyond.) Congratulations -- and serious thanks -- to Councillor Layton for his great work on this. Of course Riocan is appealing to OMB. Fingers crossed that this preposterous idea will remain struck down.


  1. Open letter to Dalton McGuinty

    28 June 2012

    Dear Premier McGuinty,

    The existence of a speculative bubble in the overheated condo market in Toronto is universally acknowledged. A leading cause of this bubble is also widely acknowledged: the unique relationship between Toronto and the Ontario Municipal Board, in which our city's Department of Planning has only a very weak say in what actually gets built in our city. If the residents of the city were in a position to exert the standard degree internationally of democratic control over the activities of developers, our city and the province would not be facing an immanent calamitous economic shock.

    A secondary effect of Ontario's disastrous decades of meddling in Toronto's planning decisions is less widely acknowledged, but is beginning to loom larger in the public mind. The City's Official Plan contains a number of safeguards to balance the importance of urban intensification with the property rights of homeowners. Unfortunately, the City's powerlessness to constrain developers means that the call for growth is not in practice mitigated by these safeguards. The result is that, with predatory condo development encroaching everywhere on, smothering, and destabilizing Neighbourhoods, the homeowner throughout the city of Toronto is not in fact enjoying the legally guaranteed protection of his or her property values.

    Or to put it bluntly, we have entered a regime of expropriation, in which the government has not only ceased to protect the homeowner, but is acting affirmatively to illegally transfer the homeowner's property values to the developer. If a regime of expropriation persists for long, it leads to only one destination: California.

    There is a somewhat ironic difference between our present situation and that state's situation in the early 1970s. The proximal cause of the property tax revolts in that state was what the homeowner perceived to be an excess of socialism (note that I myself would not agree with that perception). By contrast, here in Ontario, the homeowner is beginning to perceive instead an excess of capitalism. In California, the government left property values intact while raising taxes for the benefit of society. Here in Ontario, the government leaves taxes intact while diminishing property values for the benefit of already wealthy developers.

    Canada has turned out to be a rather different place than I anticipated when I emigrated here from the US with my wife in 2005.

    Benj Hellie
    Smart Growth for Ossington

  2. The Preliminary Report makes no reference to the planning rationale you are relying on. This looks ominous to me. I have seen many such PRs with Final Reports taking a 360 degree turn at the last minute. Your best protection is the local councillor. In the current state of play it is the local councillor who calls all the shots. If you can't get a firm written statement of support it will be an indication that he will hide behind the Planner's report. If he commits to rejecting then you will have the benefit, at least, of Council sending a team to the OMB. Even then, given the current state of the Planning Dept, your chances are 50/50. There's much that can be done before you get to OMB. The most important piece of work you could do is accurately assess your chances of beating this one. (Similar applications and OMB Decisions) It's a terrible thing your community is going through but very common these days. My take, based on reading the blogs, is that the downtown pinko elites are not on your side. That is not good, given the composition of your Community Council.

    1. Thanks; much important information here. Also, a Q: which blogs are you talking about?

  3. Yeah, the prelim report is pretty terse. We have been building our case around statements the Planner made to us: "Ossington is not an Avenue, it is a destination". We argue that non-Avenue status in the OP means not that it is left open whether midrise is permitted but rather that midrise is specifically excluded. And we argue that destination status requires excluding midrise. Planner seemed pretty enthusastic about squashing the thing down, even floating the prospect of redesignating the laneway a street to compel the rear angular plane to project upward from the property line -- meaning only towns in the back and no prospect for above 5 stories.

    But yes, "firm written statement of support" -- this is a goal very much worth pursuing. Thank you for bringing that prospect to our attention.