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    At the @reposadobar shrine having some Thursday night drinks.

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    Some rainy day filming on Ossington of Beauty and the Beast. Looking like #nyc #batb @cwbatb

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    Looking very #NYC with taxis and police cars for the shoot today #ossington

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    #fall colours #trinitybellwoodspark

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    The boards are off the new @stylegarage location on Ossington. #comingsoon

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    Stopped by #fnlrom and ran into @ledolci with salted caramel smore tarts.

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    Great #snack plate @thedockellis #grandslam #nomnom goes well with #craftbeer and #mlb #alcs

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    Happy #Thanksgiving #weekend. Enjoy!

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    Dinner at @thanostripi #mamakaa #greek food #ossington

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    The #party #dancing #music #alleyway Freeman Dre #ossingtonvillage

Toronto City Election: Our Ward

oct27vote2014Toronto has a pretty important election coming up, and the decisions we make this month affect us for 4 years – at least. October 27th is the official election day for mayor, city councillor and school board trustee positions. We’ve got information on the election, including where and when to vote, who is running in our Ward, and even some details on rewards for voters.

If you already know who you want to vote for, just go out and vote already. Advance voting started today through Sunday, October 19. You can vote from 10a-7p each of these days at Trinity Community Recreation Centre.

Toronto has a great new site with all the information on the candidates for each position. All you have to do is type in your address and the reference is all there. The only problem is there are about 100 candidates listed for mayor alone! Since we’re confident you’ve seen enough coverage of the mayoral election, we’ll focus on the Ward 19 City Council and Ward 10 School board elections.

WARD 19 CITY COUNCIL ELECTION CANDIDATES

This election we have four candidates running for Ward 19 City Council. Take some time and click through, read their platforms and learn about what they bring to represent the ward.

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Scott Bowman comes to the race supported by provincial MPP Han Dong, the liberal representative for Trinity Spadina. Follow his twitter acccount here and his Facebook here. He is not the most googled Scotty Bowman, the ex-NHL coach. This Scott Bowman has an entrepreneurial background, and has been involved as a community activist, working for people with disabilities and youth.

Albina Burello has a set of well-outlined positions on everything from transit to animal rights to diversity and community centres. You can keep up with her on twitter here (although you’ll need to ask to get her to open up her blocked account). Albina’s background is in the private sector – working for financial services and training companies.

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Mike Layton is the incumbent candidate in the ward and has been active in the area since the last election. He’s on twitter here and his Facebook election page is here. Many of you who have lived in the ward have seen Mike at community events and meetings and riding his bike around the area.

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George Sawision has been on the ballot here in Ward 19 before and he’s running for a 3rd time this year. He’s well known for his colourful and opinionated tweets. Sawision, a master electrician, placed second his first campaign in 2006 with 1,710 votes, but underperformed in the 2010 election with only 356 votes.

Read up and make your decision based on what works for you in our ward.

WARD 10 TORONTO DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD ELECTION CANDIDATES

Ward 10’s representative, Chris Bolton, the former chair of the TDSBresigned earlier this year amidst corruption scandals.  As a result, there is no incumbent in Ward 10, so please pay attention to who you vote for in this election. The school board is still embroiled in scandal, so here’s our chance to influence it for the good with an honest representative.

There’s quite a few candidates running for Ward 10 TDSB so their names and sites are linked below (if they have them). We encourage you to read up on all their platforms, and don’t just trust the signs. Mike Layton supported Bolton last time and look what happened there.

WHEN YOU’RE DONE VOTING – GET A (FREE – OR CHEAP) BEER

Is doing your civic duty and having your voice heard not enough incentive? There are some people who guessed that, and they are offering free beers for voting. As far as we can tell, there are at least 2 different promotions going on around voting and beer.

Happy Voting Hour: A few Toronto bars, including Rock Lobster on Ossington, are offering early discounts on beer and apps to celebrate the election. Rock Lobster is offering the specials tomorrow, Wednesday, October 15 from 6-8pm. Another local spot, The Dog and Bear, hosts on Thursday from 6-8pm. Use the code “I VOTED” to get your special discount

Vote for a Party:  Targeting only voters in Ward 19 (lucky us!), this campaign encourages all voters on October 27 to look for volunteers who will give them a ticket to one of 3 parties at bars in our Ward: Opera Bob’s, The Caledonian, and Brazen Head. This ticket will get you a free Beau’s beer, only available on Election Day.

Get out to Vote – Trinity Spadina Federal By-election – June 30

The next in the series of elections for our neighbourhood, the Trinity-Spadina By-Election, takes place June 30th. If you didn’t vote early, head out on Monday and have your say.

The federal Trinity Spadina seat is being contested to fill the empty seat left by Olivia Chow, who resigned to run for Mayor of Toronto in the Oct 27th election. With no incumbent to vote for, this opens up a new set of candidates to run in this riding.

There have already been controversies in this election, ranging from sign stealing and party infighting. There was also a local debate which aired on Rogers TV;  unfortunately, unless you are a Rogers customer, you’re not privileged enough to  watch or listen to this debate.

There are six candidates running to be the Trinity Spadina MP and we encourage you to read up on all of them and pick the one you feels represents you and this neighbourhood. Below is a list of the candidates and links to their websites where available.

Joe Cressy is running as the New Democrat candidate. He is in the incumbency party and has strong ties to the neighbourhood. He comes from a political family, and is close friends with city councillor Mike Layton. His website is here.

Adam Vaughan is running for the Liberal Party of Canada. Adam was a city councilor in Ward 20, an area that covers downtown Toronto. Meet Adam on his page here.

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Running for the Green Party, which seems to be running a strong campaign in the riding, is Camille Labchuk.

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The Conservative Party is running Benjamin Sharma

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Also in the running are Linda Groce-Gibbons from the Christian Heritage Party of Canada, a party with a singular pro-life focus; and the rather interesting John “The Engineer”  Turmel, whose own website isn’t working, but who does have a fairly complete Wikipedia page.

Get out and vote on Monday, June 30.

Get out to Vote! Provincial Trinity Spadina – June 12

Screen Shot 2014-06-10 at 3.43.48 PMThere are a whole lot of elections coming up – first Provincial, then a Federal by-election to replace mayoral candidate Olivia Chow, and then in October, municipal elections.

The first one is upon us soon. June 12th is the day we head to the polls to elect a Provincial member of parliament for our Trinity Spadina neighbourhood, and that helps determine our provincial leader – the race between Tim Hudak for the PCs, Kathleen Wynne for the Liberals and Andrea Horwath for the NDP.

In our region we have a few competitors for this provincial election, some with a chance of winning, some less so. We encourage you to click through to each of their websites (if they have them) and read up on your local candidate. We also asked each of the candidates how, if elected, it would affect the Ossington area, and we’ve posted the responses we’ve received below. We will post more if they come in.

Here’s our quick outline of who’s running.

Our incumbent is Rosario Marchese from the NDP, who has led this riding for 15 years since winning the new district created in 1999.

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“Obviously, people in Ossington share the same concerns about health care, education and transit as other Torontonians, but the issue of development is particularly relevant to Ossington. Last year I introduced Bill 20 to free Toronto from the OMB, and I am the only candidate in Trinity-Spadina who has made OMB reform a top priority. My other priorities include stronger protections for condo owners and tenants, defending the waterfront from jets, funding for cycling infrastructure, and immediate funding for the Downtown Relief Line and Clean Trains to the airport.” – Rosario Marchese


 

If street signs in our area are any indication, the biggest competition to Mr Marchese will be the Liberal candidate, Han Dong.

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Given this region’s left leaning tendencies as a downtown urban district, Green Party candidate Tim Grant may have a chance of gaining share of the vote.

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The provincial PCs are running candidate Roberta Scott.

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Libertarian Andrew Echeverria, is also making a play in this riding.

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“I love the cultural diversity Ossington Village offers, it’s one of my favourite parts of the city. If elected, I would cut the red tape to starting and running a business, so that Ossington Village can continue blooming as a centre for small business and entrepreneurship.” – Andrew Echeverria


Other candidates include Vegan Environmental (there’s a party called that?) Paul Figueiras, Party for People with Special Needs, Dan King, who ran last election as a Green Party Candidate.

Get out to vote June 12th. Check the Elections Ontario website to check if you’re on the list and for where to vote.

 

Where to Watch Sunday’s Gold Medal Men’s Hockey Game

team-canada-hockeyWant to cheer on Team Canada in public tomorrow? While some of us may barely get out of bed to catch the gold medal game, thanks to Councillor Mike Layton, bars will be open early and serving drinks. So, the question is, which local bars will be open for you to watch the game with other fans?

Opera Bob’s, at 1112 Dundas West, frequently opens early for Man City football games, so they have no problem opening this Sunday in time for the 7am puck drop. This friendly bar has several small TVs behind the bar, and they’ll pull out the big screen for events like this.

New sports bar The Dock Ellis will open their doors at 1280 Dundas Street West at 6am, so you can get your prime seat and a pint of Ontario craft brew, and be all set for the first period.

Know any other local spots showing the game? Share with us in the comments or via twitter.

Go Canada!

Changes at Humbert St – Mamakas to arrive soon

The corner of Humbert and Ossington has been going through some changes recently. The two locations on the north and south side of the intersection are about to change – the south side into a Greek restaurant, and on the north corner we’re still awaiting word on what the new owners want to do.

The south side of the intersection is 80 Ossington, the former location of Ministry of the Interior, a high end design shop that was here until a couple of years ago. The space has been empty for quite some time and until a few weeks ago the sides were boarded up. It has emerged with a grey stucco front and glass doors, and a series of new windows on the north side of the building. It’s starting to have the appearance of a restaurant.

We learned recently that it’s still going to be called Mamakas, but instead of being a bakery, as the signage from April 2012 suggested, it’s going to be focussing on authentic Greek cuisine, with smaller dishes using real Greek ingredients. The windows were installed to allow for a bright airy space, which will be good when they eventually open for lunch. IMG_20140120_154623

On the north corner, as BlogTO and Toronto Life last week reported,  the Levack Block building was sold to new owners. The building sold for almost $3M after being on the market for a while. Levack Block was one of the founding ‘hip’ spots on Ossington, catering to young partiers who crowded the back room regularly and quite likely led to the restaurant moratorium in 2009 due to noise complaints and other issues. The building does not have official historic designation, but any changes will certainly be examined by the Toronto Historical Preservation services as it is one of the oldest buildings on the strip. The building features a beautiful upstairs party space which hosted numerous corporate parties and weddings. Although we don’t know what’s going in there at this point, we’ll let you know when we hear news.

 

 

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Get Your Rob Ford Merchandise at Crywolf

Rob Ford is a popular topic of late night news shows and Korean cartoon video makers. Do you want a memento of these crazy days, or a gift for a non-local friend? Crywolf Clothing, at 91 Ossington, has the “You Crack Me Up” line of merchandise, and they are getting attention for it both near and far. When we stopped in this afternoon, a Japanese broadcaster was interviewing designer Chris Aslandis about his popular line of buttons, magnets and t-shirts.

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Councillor Layton Solicits Community Feedback

Councillor Mike Layton is looking for community input through a neighbourhood survey he has created and posted on his website.

The purpose of the survey is to get people’s opinions on future development on Ossington Avenue between Dundas and Queen. There are a number of potential sites that could be developed, and Councillor Layton is interested in what residents want for this stretch of Ossington.

It’s your neighbourhood so you likely have an opinion on what happens in it. Click here to fill out the survey. We’ll see what happens.

Hawker Bar is looking for community input and support on their back patio

cropped-name-on-windowIn January this year our local Singapore streetfood joint, Hawker Bar, sent the below note to locals in the area asking for their input and support for a small back patio they are looking to open this summer. The permit process for patios in Toronto can be long and challenging, and the support of local residents is key to ensuring everything runs smoothly and quickly. They have asked us to share the letter as they want to ensure an open and honest dialogue with all the neighbours so if there are concerns they can address them quickly and directly rather than at a hearing room.

They are looking to build a small 23-seat garden patio featuring extensive use of foliage as both decor and sound- reducing devices. Access to the patio will be through a basement traverse through the restaurant, not from Foxley or through the kitchen. There will be no speakers or music present on the garden patio. They intend to build a cover on top of the patio to reduce the noise and close the garden patio at 11pm sharp.

They have asked anyone who has concerns or even wants to help support them to get in touch through their email, hawkerbar@gmail.com, or by calling 647 343 4698.

We are excited by the project and look forward to some nice dinners out under the summer starlight with their Singapore Chicken Wings and Hawker Laska Lamak. Plus, in the summer, everyone will enjoy another outdoor dining option to complement Foxley and Union.

Read through their note posted below and give them a call or a note and let them know what you think.

Hawker Bar – Project Patio Letter to Neighbors

Let Ossington Grow – 109 Should Be Built

While this post and the constant stream of comments have been excellent for our site traffic (thank you!), Brian and I have decided to close the comments on this post. It’s been open for two days, people have had a fair chance to state their opinions, and we have linked to all the possible places where you can read the same comments and more.

In this two days, we have witnessed:

  7  commenters supporting our position (over 11 posts),
12  commenters against (over 40 posts),
857 words used in support of our position,
7344 words used against our position
15 retweeters supporting our position,
2 retweeters opposing our position,
2 emails asking us to approve their comments the second after they’ve been sent, and
1 threat of libel and loss of friendship.


Brian and I have day jobs and we created this blog to support the community by promoting local businesses and positive community support.  We’d like to return to doing just that. Thanks for continuing to read this blog.

Melinda and Brian

 

Our neighbourhood, as one prominent Toronto writer privately noted, is tainted – people outside are beginning to view the neighborhood as anti-business and anti-development. At this blog we decided it’s time to take a stand against this taint. We have restrained our opinion on the current development proposal at 109 Ossington – the heart of the battle – choosing to simply report on the facts of the battle to the extent we’ve thought it important. Based on discussions we’ve had with locals, travels to much other urban centres, and recent events throughout our city, we decided that needed to change. It is time that we state our opinion on this project and development in general.

This perception of taint stems from a small group of local residents calling themselves the Ossington Community Association (OCA). The group was founded by a couple of university professors who in 2009 successfully lobbied Joe Pantalone to implement a moratorium on Ossington of new food service establishments (the same ones they now claim create the character of the street). They continue their active no-growth lobby today through the group they founded, the OCA. They are highly active writers who litter every article written on the subject with dozens of extended comments, and post endless letters to the editors of the publications. In so doing, have built a perception of their group being larger than the few active residents who comprise it. The group has been intransigent, tone-deaf to local planners, city experts and many of the local businesses who have told them they don’t agree with their position, and possess a frightening schadenfreude toward the local developers. (Their Facebook group currently has a gleeful post about falling condo sales in the city).

Our belief is that Ossington, like Toronto, needs to grow. In the years we’ve written this blog and become increasingly involved in the community through Jane’s Walks and other events, we’ve noted that what happens in Toronto in general happens on Ossington. That means the bad as well as the good, like the recent anti-condo crusade spreading across the city.

As a community, we can and should have a say in this city. We don’t dismiss the hard work Mike Layton has done trying to bring the community together, but how we vote on what we want is with our pocketbooks. Economics and fundamental city planning needs to drive these decisions We need to let entrepreneurs build their businesses, and let them fail if they can’t build them well. We’ve seen a number of businesses in the last few years try to build on the street and we haven’t legislated their failure, we just haven’t shopped there. Whether the developers of 109 Ossington and Motif succeed or fail should be on the success of their business plan, not on whether we decide to legislate or lobby them out of our community. We believe the small six story development would be a strong addition to the neighbourhood, bringing more invested residents downtown to an area where the housing market prices are out of reach of what many who want to live here can afford.

Neighborhoods like ours grow thanks to small bars and restaurants and art galleries. Some of these may move on when the rents get high, and that is something we as a community ultimately can’t control. We had the opportunity, with Mike Layton’s planning study, to positively guide those we want to move to our neighborhood, and influence what changes they made. Unfortunately, the vocal OCA refused to listen to other opinions or allow for mature compromises. We believe it’s time to stand up for the people who want change and want to live in a vibrant evolving community that welcomes outsiders and growth.

We want our neighbourhood and, correspondingly the city we live in, to remain one of growth and entrepreneurship, inclusion, and artistic openness.

Over six years ago, when we made this area our home, the Ossington strip was run down. There were a few businesses who braved the dangers of the neighbourhood, and the lack of traffic, to serve the residents. We can now look back and salute people like Pol from Sweaty Bettys (and The Sparrow, which was the prior restaurant before Delux), Tom Thai from Foxley, and many others who took financial and personal risks in an unproven neighborhood to build their businesses and Ossington itself into a place where people want to live and play. We were impressed that this neighbourhood grew despite roadblocks put up by a few stubborn local residents opposed to change. The area was built thanks to entrepreneurs taking chances, and we feel these are values we need to reward in Toronto if we want our city to keep competing in an international economy.

When we moved here six years ago we were warmly welcomed into the neighborhood by residents and business owners alike. We want to continue to extend that welcome to new residents to the neighbourhood – whether they move into houses currently being sold for a million dollars, or whether they buy or rent small, one-bedroom condos yet to be built. Those are people we welcome to downtown to ensure our neighbourhood has a diversity of residences and residents. The entrepreneurs, artists, producers, musicians, chefs, gallery curators and show promoters bring the change and are the reason Ossington has thrived. With such a wide range of arts, why wouldn’t we embrace architecture?  The concept at 109 is both innovative and created by a local, Roland Colthoff at Raw Design.

We spend a lot of time talking to local residents and business owners. Those conversations inform us that the majority of the neighbourhood does not agree with the Community Association. They assume that city planners will do their jobs and let the city grow organically based on current guidelines, taking community input into account, and then let economics chips fall where they will.

There have only been a few times where we’ve had to take a stand on an issue. The first, and the impetus behind the founding of the blog, was our opposition to the restaurant moratorium. This has become another issue where we need to state our opinion.  Ossington and Toronto are going to grow. 109 Oz should be built. Many others agree.

Editors Note: Comments may be moderated for reasons stated above. 

 

Visioning Study Neighbourhood Walk – A Recap

Last Wednesday the Ossington Visioning Study, organized by Councillor Mike Layton, held a neighbourhood walk to look at the structures in the neighbourhood. Scot Blythe, a neighbourhood resident, posted an excellent description of the walk in the Ossington Residents Association Facebook page which, with permission, we are resposting here with a few of our photos.

Councillor Mike Layton introduced the session at the Trinity-Bellwoods Community Centre, saying it had two purposes for residents: 1) what elements of your community do you most value; and 2) what aspects of the built form contribute to improving your community (occupants — who lives/works there, shape, size, architecture, material, windows etc.). He also urged residents to send in pictures of buildings and streetscapes they thought worked.

First stop was Queen and Crawford, where City urban designer Deanne Mighton pointed to three recent developments — the italianate townhouses at Queen and Strachan, the Chocolate Factory Lofts and the Candy Factory Lofts. They all fit within the planning guidelines where a street right of way of 20m gives rise to a building height of 20m (more or less). The Chocolate Factory was notable because the retail at grade doesn’t quite work, however. The shop heights are too low.

She also noted that the 20m right of way is a planning construct.

On the way to the next stop, 41 Ossington, it was pointed out Councillor Layton that there are two recent developments on Queen, at Queen and Givins and 2 Ossington, that are low-rise and fit the streetscape.

At 41 Ossington, Councillor Layton suggested that there are “soft development targets” in the neighbourhood, including the self-storage warehouse across Rebecca. They are relatively large buildings with a single owner. Similarly, Green P parking lots could be considered soft targets.

Righton pointed to potential developer concessions to widen sidewalks to create “tree trenches” since city trees find it difficult to flourish. It was pointed out that trees help soften the visage of Ossington.

At Argyle Place, where there is a house in the laneway, Righton said that planning principles argue that buildings should face front to front, side to side and back to back. Councillor Layton added that while many people favour residences in laneways, others push back at someone overlooking their backyard.

Up the street at Ossington and Halton, architect Terence Van Elsander, a principal at Van Elslander Carter Architects (168 Ossington) commented that the four-storey stacked townhouse development began the revitalization of Ossington. But it lacks flexibility. Units cannot be converted to another use, such as loft becoming a three-bedroom apartment, or a restaurant becoming an art gallery.

At St. Luke’s Catholic School, Councillor Layton suggested that both St. Luke’s and the Carmelite Sisters’ daycare property across the street (at Harrison) were both soft development targets, thanks to declining enrolments.

Righton suggested that St. Luke’s land could be acquired as a park, but only if a city agency has a plan before the property is sold.

Finally, at College and Roxton, Righton explained how the mid-rise Cube development has setbacks to reflect the historical block of three-storey buildings across the street. And the massing is away from the street, in the middle of the building.

Councillor Layton concluded the meeting by saying redevelopment is not just about height.

Upcoming Events

Oct
25
Sat
10:00 am Bluegrass Brunch @ The Dakota Tavern
Bluegrass Brunch @ The Dakota Tavern
Oct 25 @ 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
2:00 pm Evita @ Lower Ossington Theatre
Evita @ Lower Ossington Theatre
Oct 25 @ 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Evita @ Lower Ossington Theatre
2:00 pm Spamalot @ Lower Ossington Theatre
Spamalot @ Lower Ossington Theatre
Oct 25 @ 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
SPAMALOT tells the legendary tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and features a bevy (or possibly a brace) of beautiful show girls, witch-burnings (cancelled – health & safety), flying cows,[...]
4:00 pm Gypsy Jazz w/ Michael J @ The Communist's Daughter
Gypsy Jazz w/ Michael J @ The Communist's Daughter
Oct 25 @ 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
6:00 pm DJ Phantastik with Live Percussi... @ The Painted Lady
DJ Phantastik with Live Percussi... @ The Painted Lady
Oct 25 @ 6:00 pm – Oct 25 @ 10:00 pm
no cover
8:00 pm Evita @ Lower Ossington Theatre
Evita @ Lower Ossington Theatre
Oct 25 @ 8:00 pm – 10:30 pm
Evita @ Lower Ossington Theatre
9:00 pm Bradley and the Bouncers @ Reposado Bar
Bradley and the Bouncers @ Reposado Bar
Oct 25 @ 9:00 pm – Oct 26 @ 1:30 am
10:00 pm Turning Point @ The Garrison
Turning Point @ The Garrison
Oct 25 @ 10:00 pm – Oct 26 @ 1:00 am

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