|2011 Google Image of Ossington Avenue (looking south from Dundas West). Copyright Google, 2012.|
The other day, I got an e-mail from Jessica Wilson - President of the Ossington Community Association - regarding my take on the third public meeting that was held about two weeks ago regarding a proposed Official Plan Amendment (OPA) for the area. The e-mail is written in full in the post below this one.
If you haven't, please therefore read her response first; her comments are highlighted in blue below.
I will be allowing Jessica to respond to this one in full, as I'm fairly sure that 4096 characters won't suffice (we have talked via e-mail before, and came to the conclusion that replying to each other was a full-time job). As for anyone else that wishes to comment, you've got ~4000 characters. I've appreciate it if you remained concise, rather than submitting multiple comments at once. If you really wish, you can e-mail me at elarusic at gmail.com. I'm not interested in turning this blog into a giant debate about the future of Ossington, but if there are any interesting comments/observations I might respond in a future post. Otherwise, I'll stick to the comments like everyone else.
Some clarifications, if I may. Apologies for the length; there's a lot to say.
1. It is unclear what it means for a given ZBL to be "out-of-date". One sort of consideration might reflect that there was no more room to grow within the existing ZBL. That's not true for Ossington: as a conservative estimate there is room to triple the density on Ossington within the current 14m limit. Another sort of consideration might reflect new directions taken in an Official Plan whereby certain areas are explicitly flagged as targets for growth typically above and beyond present their current ZBL. Ossington is not so targeted by the Official Plan---most saliently, as a narrow (17.5m ROW) pedestrian eddy destination district, it is not and is nothing like the designated Avenues---broad long transit thoroughfares, such as King, Queen, Dundas, Bloor---that (along with Downtown, Employment Districts, and Centres---are targeted for growth in the OP.
When I say that many zoning by-laws are "out of date" I mean that the zoning does not necessarily reflect was is "good planning". The majority of height and density limits are carryovers from over two decades ago. Meanwhile, the way the planning profession examines built form has changed dramatically, not only through legislation (such as the Planning Act and Official Plan), but also economically (e.g. the price of oil) and environmentally (e.g. reducing greenhouse gases). To expect that planners got it "right" 25 years (or more!) ago is therefore a poor defense against reexamining zoning by-laws (ZBLs) in Toronto. Planning staff affirmed this at the draft OPA presentation earlier this month.
I don't think anyone would really disagree that the zoning that exists on Ossington is out of date; the zoning (even in the new draft by-law) does not properly reflect aspects such as a maximum floor-space for commercial properties, and the density allowed is likely too low. Even the OPA reflects that the height is likely low-balled; even in Area 1 of the draft OPA, there is potential for building taller than 14m (as long as they remain four stories and fit the angular planes).
The ability for developers to attempt to change the ZBL is a right given under the Planning Act. That there is room to grow under the "current" ZBL is not a defense against intensification over the current ZBL; developers have the right to ask. The appropriateness of any development over the ZBL is therefore judged by the neighbourhood context. The ZBL does (and should) only represent the "as-of-right" context, in which a developer can be sure that city approval is unnecessary. As an example, the building at the northwest corner of Queen and Ossington (where the Starbucks is going) was, to my knowledge, built under the 1986 ZBL.
Continuing from that, just because certain areas are "targeted" for growth (i.e. the Avenues on Map 2 of the Official Plan) does not preclude the possibility of growth outside of those areas. That there is sufficient space within the designated growth areas for "foreseeable" population growth forecasts is important for a city building exercise as a whole, but irrelevant in deciding the appropriateness of an individual development. The merits of any ZBL amendment are (and should) be judged on their context, not on whether they've got an appropriate colour on a map. Many residential developments in the city have intensified over the underlying ZBL (and indeed, one can find examples that increase it over just 6m) because of the appropriateness of the neighbourhood context; why should the Ossignton strip be judged differently? I'm extremely confident that if you asked any professional planner at the city (including Toronto's new Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat) you would get a similar answer.
I have talked to about half a dozen professional planners about the issue of Map 2 / OP Mixed Use Areas, and all have reiterated that the OP direction on areas such as the Ossington strip is to allow developers to make the case; denying them because the property does not fall within on an Avenue would be a poor argument. As an example, the OMB case at 134-162 Broadview Ave. was denied the proposed intensification (a nine-storey mixed use building). That the proposal laid outside of Map 2 was not what "killed it". As the OMB member stated:
In her witness statement (Exhibit 26), Ms Nott stated, “The City’s Official Plan framework of ‘Downtown and Central Waterfront’, ‘Centres’, and ‘Avenues’ reflects the Growth Plan’s definition of ‘intensification areas’ and identifies these areas as major opportunities for intensification. However, in my opinion, neither the Growth Plan nor the City’s Official Plan precludes other localized intensification initiatives on properties or sites outside of these areas (provided such site-specific proposals address a number of development criteria established by the Toronto Official Plan….).”
Ms Prejel agreed that localized intensification in areas outside those specified for intensification can occur, but added that, Policy 4.1.7 of the Official Plan states that proposals for intensification of land on major streets in Neighbourhoods are not encouraged by the policies of the Plan. The policy states that, “when a more intense form of residential development than that permitted by existing zoning on a major street in a Neighbourhood is proposed, the application will be reviewed in accordance with Policy 4.1.5, having regard for both the form of the development along the street and its relationship to adjacent development in the Neighbourhood (Exhibit 55). (emphasis mine, link)
What killed the Broadview proposal was that the development did not respect the nearby residential. Both the OMB member and city planner (Ms Prejel) agreed that the potential for intensification existed, just that this proposal was inappropriate for the neighbourhood context (it wanted to change the OP designation to Mixed Use, and the nine-stories was thought to be too large for the nearby single-family homes).
Although the OCA argues that 20m developments would not respect the surrounding Neighbourhood, I (and the professional planners that I have talked to) do not think it is necessarily an open-and-shut case. The Ossington strip is Mixed Use rather than Residential (which carries less restrictive zoning). That city planners such as Thomas Rees might agree (due the presence of Area 2) simply strengthens my opinion that the OP should not be read so narrowly as the OCA might prefer it to be.
I would also note that the right-of-way (ROW) of Ossington might be currently about 17.5m, but the city has decided that the ROW of Ossington should be 20m, and are taking land as the strip develops. To the larger point, Ossington absolutely shares several features with OP designated Avenues such as Dundas and Queen, such as it's land-use and transit connectivity. But whether Ossington is (or ever resembles) an OP designated "avenue" (such as Dundas and Queen) is irrelevant; no one (not even the developer of 109Oz, Reserve Properties) is attempting to change the OP to make it one. Much like the issue of Ossington's ROW, the only way to turn it into an OP designated "Avenue" is to introduce an OP amendment. As clarified at the last meeting, neither the OP designation or ROW is changing in the area.
2. You say "all the feedback given (including over a 1000 strong petition to keep Ossington low-rise) has spoken primarily to resident fears, rather than any solid evidence that a six storey building at 103-111 Ossington would destabilize the neighbourhood."To the first argument, as mentioned earlier there is no one arguing to turn the Ossington strip in question into an OP-designated Avenue. But in regards to the ROW, the OP envisions a 20m ROW on Ossington sometimes in the indeterminate future; the presence of historical buildings need not disrupt this.
On the contrary, the OCA has canvassed many OP-based arguments against the proposal; we have also been at the forefront of blocking bad OP-based arguments in favor of the proposal. Let me mention three of these latter sorts of arguments, which constitute the main reasons that have been offered in support of putting a large (82ft including mechanical penthouse) mid rise in a low-rise (46ft max) area, in obvious insensitivity to existing built form context.
First is the argument that Ossington, while not a designated Avenue, is fated to become an Avenue (or something like an Avenue) due to its appearing on Map 3 as slated to have a 20m ROW. This argument is fatuous, since (a) this widening should not happen, since it would require tearing down all the Victorian and other main street character buildings that give Ossington its distinctive character; (b) this widening will never happen, due to the several historical buildings on the strip, including Toronto's first library, one of its first firehouses, and the Levack Block building; (c) there is no motivation for widening, since Map 3 is supposed to track major transportation flows, but N-S traffic from Queen to Dundas occurs along Shaw, not Ossington (the latter carries a miniscule percentage of N-S traffic). For all these reasons, the motivation from Map 3 (which was cited in Planning's justification for 41 Ossington) is a total crock.
Aside from the likely unpalatable ways of "preserving" the buildings (i.e. facadism), there are potentially ways to preserve them that might allow the buildings to be "moved" the ~1.25m required to allow the 20m ROW. If the technology doesn't exist now (and I'm pretty sure it does), perhaps it will in fifty (or a hundred!) years. From this, if one is attempting to create buildings that do not disrupt things such as sunlight and are appropriately massed, then better to create the buildings now based on a future 20m ROW now rather than waiting decades and decades for it to happen.
On the note about traffic, from my discussions with planning staff, the ROW widening is not due to vehicular traffic; the plan with the future ROW is to expand the pedestrian realm (i.e. sidewalks), not roads. They are seeking to make the area more walkable, not to make it handle more cars. Regardless, the ROW would need to be expanded across the entire strip to fit in an additional lane.
I also note that while Shaw St. might handle most of the north/south traffic (I will take your word on this), Shaw St. is one-way north of Dundas W, which prevents it from being an arterial road like Ossington. I also note that the OP designated Ossington - not Shaw - as a "major street" on Map 3. The closest road that could "fulfill" that purpose otherwise would be Dovercourt to the west, but the section south of Dundas W. is neither recognized as a major street (only the section north of Dundas), nor has bus service. I also must admit that I find it strange to hold in deep respect one section of the OP (Map 2) yet downplay another (Map 3).
A second and related fatuous motivation is that because Ossington has a bus on it, it is a "major street" or a "main street" with "transit" of the sort that the OP supposedly targets for growth above current ZBL. This is the sort of inaccurate presentation of the OP growth strategy that we have seen in Hume's and Gee's columns. Again, the OP does not target any street with some stores and a bus route on it for over-ZBL growth. The Official Plan Growth Policy is in Chapter 2, page 5, Policy 2.2; the targeted areas for growth (Avenues, Downtown, Centres, Employment Districts) are on Map 2. Ossington is not on Map 2, and again for good reason (too narrow to be an Avenue, not to mention being a pedestrian eddy destination district as opposed to a major transit thoroughfare, yadda yadda).
I will refrain from repeating myself on the second argument, except to reiterate that whether a 20m building rests on a designated Avenue or not as relevant as you might wish it to be; what largely matters is the context of the proposal. The term "over ZBL growth" is not a term or concept that the city does (or should) recognize. Such a term fails to recognize any nuance about a proposal or the neighbourhood. I also do not believe that a six-storey building will necessarily prevent the area from being a pedestrian eddy destination district yadda yadda either.
The third fatuous motivation is that Ossington is a mixed-use area, and the OP targets any mixed-use area from over-ZBL growth. The OP does not target any and all mixed-use areas for such growth. What it does say, in Chapter 4, is that the land use designations that will see the most growth *within* the categories (Avenues, Downtown, etc.) targeted for growth in the OP growth policy are Mixed Use areas as opposed to, e.g., Neighborhoods. Those who say that the OP targets any and all Mixed Use areas for growth are committing a fallacy.
All of these arguments are OP-based, not "fear-based" arguments. In addition to these and other OP-based arguments, the case against 109OZ and the Area 2 principles is based on widely recognized planning considerations (e.g., that the Area 2 principles violate the "Core-Perimeter" principle according to which taller buildings should be placed at the perimeter, not the core, of a low-rise character area) and a full range of specific details about negative impact to the business, residential, and school communities.
You're correct that the OP does not target "any and all" Mixed Use Areas for growth, but that does not mean that the default assumption should be that growth is impossible. There is nothing in the document states that a six-storey (or 20m tall) building would be inappropriate on Ossington. Section 4.4 of the OP on Mixed Use Areas - the most relevant section in this discussion - even seems to trump the idea of intensification in an area such as this one. I note that section 4.4, policy states:
In Mixed Use Areas development will:
a) create a balance of high quality commercial, residential, institutional, and open space uses that reduces automobile dependency and meets the needs of the local community;
b) provide for new jobs and homes for Toronto's growing population on underutilized lands in the Downtown, the Central Waterfront, Centres, Avenues, and other lands designated Mixed Use Areas, creating and sustaining well-paid, stable and fulfilling employment opportunities for all Torontonians;
c) locate and mass new buildings to provide a transition between areas of different development intensity and scale, as necessary to achieve the objectives of this Plan, through means such as providing appropriate setbacks and/or stepping down of heights, particularly towards lower scale Neighbourhoods;
d) locate and mass new buildings so as to adequately limit shadow impacts on adjacent Neighbourhoods, particularly during the spring and fall equinoxes;
h) take advantage of nearby transit services;
That other sections of the OP might struggle against these points does not invalidate the above; the OP is meant to be read as a whole. That Mixed Use Areas such as Ossington do not have a document such as the Avenues and Mid-Rise Guidelines to help developers intensify streets such as Queen W does not preclude the possibility of intensification "over the ZBL". As I stated earlier, one should not read the OP so narrowly. The planning process - which includes public input - can (and is) figuring out whether the intensification (either in the draft OPA Area 2, or with the 109Oz ZBL amendment proposal) represents "good planning".
Finally, I note that the Ossington Strip is not a character area as defined by the City of Toronto, nor a Heritage Conservation District. The city, to my knowledge, does not recognize anything such as a "core-perimeter" rule, not in "official" Character Areas nor in Heritage Conservation Districts. That "taller" buildings are often placed on the corners of streets (due their their prominence, and reduced shadow impact) does not (and should not) preclude a taller building appearing in the middle of a street if it make sense, especially when stepbacks and angular planes are involved to help hide a mere 6 metres.
With the proposed OPA stepbacks, the additional six metres on this one particular stretch of the Ossington strip will not appear to "tower" over the rest of the neighbourhood once development fills or builds on the existing structures. One must remember that we do not interact with buildings from a helicopter; we interact with them at ground level. There are numerous examples of stepbacks that effectively mask the height and density quite effectively, and I believe such stepbacks and angular planes (as proposed in the draft OPA) could on Ossington as well.
The proposed impacts that the OCA states on the nearby residential, commercial, and school services are, in my opinion, over-exaggerated. More residents in the area will have a positive effect on the vitality of both the street and businesses, and the 400m2 commercial floorspace size limit will prevent a lot of the "undesirable" commercial uses from coming into the area (that this may not happen at 109Oz is a separate issue). If there is concern on things such as the bike lane and fear for the safety of the local children, then traffic impacts can be mitigated through thoughtful design, a redction in parking requirements, etc. Reducing the maximum height allowed by 6m is not the only "solution".
3. Speaking of negative impacts, these are completely obvious to anyone familiar with the area. But one specific word about the traffic study presented by Reserve. That study sucked, because it failed to register basic facts such as that there is a laneway residence on Argyle Place and such as that there will be significant other traffic incoming from 41 Ossington and the Givins collection residences. The shadow study offered by Reserve also sucked, using a non-"as of right" comparison (which involved a two storey, 14m tall building occupying the whole of the lot) as the comparison building. Such a building is not as-of-right, since the current zoning has set-back requirements.
I would say that if there are issues with the traffic study, they might play out at the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). But more to my point, the challenge the OCA faces is discrediting a company that has been doing this kind of stuff for over 30 years. Without a competing traffic study, it is going to be the "completely obvious" word of the OCA against the evidence-based word of the BA Group, who have more than likely done the OMB rodeo before. History and research has shown that the OMB has tended to side with evidence over the "obvious".
I would look at it this way; the OCA's position is that the increased density (and subsequent impact on vehicular traffic) will be exacerbated by additional/current development on Argyle (such as 41 Ossington) and create a wholly negative impact on the one laneway residential property. Do you have a professional report to back such an opinion up? I do not say that to criticize (neighbourhood associations rarely have the resources for such documents), but to instead be realistic about one's chances of dismissing the document at the OMB. I imagine that a member of the BA Group would have an answer to both of those issues; perhaps the answer may not be palatable to the OCA's narrative, but that does not mean it is an incorrect one.
I would also counter that such thought it mere speculation by residents that are looking for reasons to deny intensification rather than to look for ways to mitigate or reduce the number of parking spaces that new development must provide. On the example of 109Oz, the additional two stories that Reserve Properties is asking for creates roughly 25 more parking spaces. These 25 parking spaces are the traffic "impact" of the additional two stories (the other 45 might be said to be allowed as-of-right given that four stories is allowed).
The strip is well connected to transit, and (save for a grocery store) has access to many different services. There is therefore an excellent argument to be made to relax the parking standards in this location. I would imagine that the developer is fine with reducing the amount of parking required, so why not work to reduce it? Even if 25 parking spots are not eliminated, some thoughtful design can signal to pedestrians and cyclists that the lane does carry vehicular traffic, and safety measures (perhaps a mirror?) could help drivers see incoming traffic better. In other words, that the building is 20m (or 21.5m) need not prevent the issue from being addressed. To suggest otherwise is, in my opinion, a failure of imagination.
On the issue of the shadow study, the current draft ZBL has set-back requirements, but the ZBL that is being modified by 109Oz (the 1986 one) does not. I have talked to the planner in charge of 109Oz, Francis Kwashie, who has confirmed this: the shadow study was done correctly. Regardless, the comparison is somewhat moot; one must prove that the proposal will cause undue shadowing, and that will be difficult without a competing study. On the subject of the OPA however, one notes that the proposed angular planes are more restrictive than those on the 109Oz proposal, so shadowing is likely even less of an issue within the draft Area 2.
4. As regards whether the results of the OPA will impact 109OZ. Of course they will, even if only indirectly. The Official Plan says that when a proposal for significant growth comes in, Council shall determine at the earliest point in the process whether an Area Study will be conducted, etc. It was because the OCA created a big hue and cry about this specific passage in the OP that Layton requested the Area Study, BTW---note that he should have done this for 41 Ossington. Anyway, the clear suggestion is that the proposal, if judged under the existing planning context, would be rejected---as 109OZ should be, if judged solely under the existing context of a 14m height and 2.5density limit. The whole point of the Area Study is to consider whether the ZBL is in fact outdated such that perhaps the building should be allowed, even so. If it looks like the Area Study is going to affirm the existing limits, then the oversize proposal will likely not be approved. If the Area Study rather says---sure, let's go higher---then the oversized proposal will likely be approved. This is confirmed in certain OMB decisions.
The 109Oz development would be rejected if solely compared to the current ZBL, but Reserve has moved to modify it (as is their right). The draft OPA requirements will not be held against the 109Oz proposal because to do so would be against city policy. One might imagine how frustrating it would be for a homeowner to be halfway through building a backyard deck, only to find out partway through construction that the city changed the rules to prohibit decks yesterday, long after the lumber had been purchased. The same idea applies here; the recommendations of the draft OPA (i.e. height limit, cornice line, angular planes) will not apply to the 109Oz proposal because they did not apply when the application for rezoning was submitted.
The proposed OPA may be presented to the OMB, but the developer still has the right to argue that their proposal will not unduly impact the neighbourhood (i.e. that it fits the context of the existing neighbourhood). After all, they have the right to try and modify the OP just like they do a ZBL; that they do not need to go through the process of amending the OP makes their job easier, but it is not unimaginable that an OMB member would allow the OP to modified to reflect the developer's vision. Hence, the proposal will stand (or fall) on it's own merits; the threat of an upcoming OPA need not derail it. If an OMB member decides the draft OPA should apply (either the recommendations and/or vision), it is their prerogative, but I wouldn't count on it unless Reserve properties really drags their feet on their appeal to the Board.
Certainly, in an ideal world, the zoning and OP designation in Toronto would be reviewed regularly. Unfortunately, a lack of resources prevents this. However, that does not mean that developers have the capacity to proposed anything; I would expect that a ten storey building (and likely even an eight storey building) would be absolutely rejected by the city. Yet, the developer still may appeal to the OMB and make their case. This is true anywhere in the city (and indeed, Ontario), regardless of the presence of a ZBL or OP; the Planning Act has provisions to modify both.
And I would note that the OPA does not change the underlying ZBL (developers may still be required to submit a ZBL amendment). The city planner, Thomas Rees justified the four-storey limit in "Area 1" of the draft OPA largely based on the depth of lots on the majority of Ossington, not because the existing 14m height limit was deemed "correct" over the entire strip. Indeed, buildings taller than 14m would be allowed across the strip under the draft OPA. So in that sense, the draft OPA does indeed agree that a 14m height limit does not realistically represent the potential of the strip.
5. Concerns that Planning did not appropriately take community input into account do no advert to our not entirely getting our way, but rather specifically refer to (1) the fact that Planning evidently discounted or dismissed the 2100 signature petition, on grounds of concerns about its legitimacy, with neither Layton's office nor Planning informing the OCA of this fact; (2) Rees did not take into account previous site-specific input pertaining to the 109OZ lands (hundreds of pieces of feedback at public and private meetings, in emails, phone calls, etc.), even though previous Area Studies (e.g., the Queen West Triangle Study) did so, and even though Planning singled out, via Area 2, the very sites for which massive anti-midrise feedback had been given for mid-rise development; (3) Rees seems to have discounted the public Visioning Process meetings, which again clearly resulted in a low-rise consensus, as encoded in the final Visioning Process Principles, instead adverting to a 34-person survey in which, he claimed, there was a 70-30 split in favor of low-rise; here it is worth noting that at least 4 of those 34 were members of the developer's team; adjusting for vested interests and the drunk heckling guy, that leaves around 13% in favor of mid-rise. Of course, that's nothing compared to the hundreds and thousands of pro-low-rise voices; my point is that Rees seems to have discounted or ignored the vast majority of these.
This raises numerous questions: should planning be a democracy? And how does one evaluate feedback - particularly massive amounts of feedback from residents - against professional opinion, study, and principles of good planning? Let me return to a parking study example. You have two "data points": a professional study done by an experienced planning group that suggests that a proposed development's parking will not negatively impact the neighbourhood. You also have 2000 signatures on a petition that declare that the same development's parking will negatively impact the neighhourhood. Who do you believe? Does it matter if it's only 100 signatures? 5000?
Part of the planning process is weeding out the fears from the reality. That there are over 2000 people who fear mid-rise on Ossington should not automatically prevent mid-rise on Ossington. In Ontario, private property rights allow for a process to decide the appropriateness of a zoning application. This is not to diminish public input; professionals can learn a lot from residents about how the neighbourhood "works". But making decisions in the public interest sometimes means going against popular opinion.
As an example, consider the Vehicle Registration Tax (VRT) that was struck down by Mayor Ford shortly after taking office. I would argue that the VRT was a great example of how to properly tax a problem (car use), and to funnel the tax into a solution (transit expansion). I believe the loss of the VRT was against the public interest. Yet, Ford was quite clear in his desire to remove it, and ultimately he won the popular vote (and not by a slim margin): the removal of the VRT was supported by the plurality (if not majority) of voters. Hence, I would argue that the public interest was undermined by public opinion.
It's great when the public interest and public opinion align, but in the arena of politics this is sometimes impossible. As planners, we therefore must therefore be vigorous in defending the public interest, even when it is not always popular to do so. We are trying (not always successfully, but trying) to build a city that "works". Sometimes that means going against a neighbourhood's wishes because the evidence, our planning experience, and the larger forces of economics and the environment disagree. This does not make the residents of a neighbourhood wrong; it means figuring out if their concerns are legitimate, and if so, can they be addressed. Sometimes, concerns have no remedy because the "solution" places to unfair a burden on the property owner and city.
I will not comment on the methodology of the survey, except to say that the meeting open to all members of the public; the developer had every right to submit a survey as a resident of Toronto - as did anyone who appeared at that meeting. Planning does not work when artificial borders divide the city into fiefdoms. I would also (to echo my statements above) suggest that just because Rees's draft OPA did not mirror the position of the OCA (and the supporters of a low-rise Ossington) does not mean that voices were discounted or ignored; it simply means that other factors led him to a different conclusion. He is certainly not the only planner I've talked to who has suggested that a 20m building might be appropriate on Ossington. I know there has been some suggestion that Rees "gave in" on 109Oz by suggesting a 20m tall building on the location is appropriate. I would instead suggest that an analysis of the area (like one I did before) allows the possibility of a 20m tall building. That two (or more) professional planners can come to the same conclusion is hardly evidence of collusion; it may be because a 20m tall building is appropriate for the site.
Finally, I want to end on a positive note; I've talked with several people both on the "pro" and "con" side of "over ZBL" intensification in the neighbourhood, and I truly believe that the neighbourhood is a lot stronger and more resilient than some would make it out to be. I am confident that no matter how tall a structure lands on Ossington, that the neighbourhood will adapt, because the residents and businesses of Ossington are strong supporters of their little piece of Toronto, who will ensure that the neighbourhood continues to evolve and thrive. A 20m (nor, I suspect, a 21.5m) building on the strip will doom it: Ossington has too many advocates - such as the OCA - for that to happen.
As mentioned at the start of this (long) post, if you have comments that do not fit into 4096 characters, please e-mail them to elarusic at gmail.com; I am allowing the president of the OCA, Jessica Wilson, to have the final word, so I will not be publishing individual e-mails (although I might reply to some interesting comments inside them). If I reply, it will be in the comments like anyone else.
Please refrain from making multiple comments in reply to above if possible; if e-mailing me is insufficient, consider e-mailing Jessica Wilson so she may include it in her reply. I believe the contact information found on the Ossington Community Association's website should be sufficient to reach her. Otherwise, be concise! I'm well versed about this topic, so I will likely know what you're talking/referring to even in point form.
I am also going to be trying to move my blog to a WordPress format in the new year, which should allow for extra large comments, so hopefully this won't be an issue in the future. Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!