News / Toronto

Ossington residents up in arms over 'massive' vertical split duplexes

Ossington-area residents are voicing concern over the growing trend of vertical duplexes, saying the "massive" homes are making the neighbourhood less affordable for new families.

According to Jessica Wilson, vice president of the Ossington Community Association, about 10 of the developments have sprung up in the area in the two years since the city's zoning bylaws were amended.

The duplexes, sometimes referred to as vertical splits, consist of a single building on a single lot, divided vertically into two separate homes.

"Developers want to build them as big as they can get away with," Wilson said. "They're really out of scale with the existing character of these residential streets."

The Ossington Community Association is holding a meeting July 14 to discuss the issue. Ward 19 councillor Mike Layton and members of the city planning department will be in attendance.

"It's a legitimate concern," Layton said. "What happens when each property is being built out to the limits on every side? How does that affect the quality of life in a community?"

Wilson said the duplexes contravene Toronto's official plan, which requires new developments to adhere to the character of existing neighbourhoods. However, her primary concern is that developers are replacing affordable homes with "luxury boxes."

"These things are massive," she said. "And they're massively profitable."

In one example, Wilson said a developer purchased a home for approximately $750,000 and razed it to make room for a vertical split. They then converted the homes into condos and sold them for a total of $2.2 million.

"The neighbourhood is changing. It's becoming more expensive and families with young children are being pushed out," said Jennifer Horvath, who lives across the street from a vertical split on Givins Street.

Horvath said the split has encroached onto her neighbours' backyard and led to a lack of on-street parking.

"The infrastructure isn't keeping up with the development," she said.

While the community association has picked its share of fights with developers over the years, Wilson firmly rejected the "NIMBY" tag.

"NIMBY is an insulting term," she said. "It's been appropriated by development-friendly factions to serve as a blanket way of shutting down discussion by community activists."

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