Concern over clubs on Ossington grows as new ‘social bar’ set to open up shop

A business dubbed a social bar set to take over from a long-standing Home Hardware store on Ossington Avenue has been the subject of intense scrutiny and concern among local residents. The hope is that the venture is not the thin edge of the nightlife wedge for a neighbourhood going through a transition

The journey of this space at 172 Ossington Ave. took an unexpected turn recently when a proposal emerged to transform it into the IDK Social Bar. Initial excitement surrounding the prospect quickly gave way to apprehension as details of the project began to surface. Local concerns reached a fever pitch when it was revealed that the Committee of Adjustment (COA) had approved the renovation plans (with no chance of appeal) despite apparent violations of long-standing bylaws.

 “The provincial Ford government passed a bill that eliminated the public’s right to appeal local COA decisions,” said Edmund Law, a local resident concerned about the issue. “Also, the COA doesn’t inform the public up front before a hearing. What this means is anyone opposing a project before the COA must have all their ducks lined up because there is no second chance.” 

Law saw the plans for the space, which was for a restaurant. But they seemed to indicate a bar as it wasn’t clear there was any kitchen, which is problematic, he said. 

Law pointed out the blurred lines between restaurants, bars and clubs at the local level, especially concerning establishments of this scale. 

“City licensing doesn’t distinguish between restaurants, bars, cafés, etc. It’s problematic at street or local level because a restaurant can be almost anything up to and bordering on club-like, especially ones of this size,” he said.  

Jennifer Horvath, of the Ossington Community Association, said residents in the area have been concerned about noise long before this application.

“That’s one of the things about Ossington that is kind of unusual: it has many residences directly on the street. They’re not all necessarily on the second, third floor and above,” she explained. “The people who live in the townhouses have been really concerned about noise for a while.” 

Jennifer Horvath, Ossington Community Association

But what makes the IDK Social Bar application unique is the operations on the second floor. 

“The notion of expanding bars and nightclubs to the second floor and above on Ossington is not permitted under the bylaw, which is one of the reasons this went to the Committee of Adjustment,” said Horvath. 

In response to these mounting concerns, residents are contemplating contesting the liquor licence application before the establishment’s grand opening.

On the Ossington Community Association Facebook page, representatives of IDK have denied allegations that it would deviate from its stated plans for Asian cuisine on the first floor and a private gathering space on the second floor.

According to Horvath, the concern isn’t just IDK, it’s about the slippery slope and the fear that Ossington will slide into a King West clubland situation.

“People are concerned about finding that right balance between residents and commercial interests, particularly anything that seems like a nightclub,” she said. “It’s primarily a residential neighbourhood where people are living with their children, their pets. They don’t necessarily want to be disturbed by crowds and music, and garbage and parking.”

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