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.