Hello:

It's been about 18 months since my last post. I would like to see more change but Councillor Grimes has been re-elected and most of the city (including Mayor Tory, Now Magazine and The Star) forget that the Western border of Toronto goes beyond Roncy! I am feeling a sense of reverse gentrification and the BIA seems more interested in bouncy castles and 1970's films. I have offered my skills and background but there seems to be zero interest (despite owning my own consulting business). Today as I strolled through the neighbourhood there have been more businesses giving up the ghost:

  • Liaison College is up for lease
  • The sushi place just west of 5th is gone
  • The little video game store just east of Islington is for rent
  • Other establishments such as Huevos (9-5) and the Spitfire Cafe (only open Thu. - Sun. and closes at 4) have cut hours considerably
  • The sporting goods store (west of Ontario Foods) has closed. I walked into their new store in Port Credit and it was packed with walk-in customers.
  • Although Placebo Space is a member of the BIA I have yet to see anyone there.The same is true for the store selling hideous blankets just East of 5th.
  • The only bookstore in the neighbourhood will be closing at the end of December.
  • The Polish deli across from the the LCBO is for lease.
  • Even the vape lounge and the e-cigarette places have closed.

On a positive note Ember Lounge could not make a go of the things. It has been replaced by a great new place called the Refinery, the maximum price for food is 6.95 and it has a great vibe and tons of craft beers on tap. 

Over the last year or so I have seen the following businesses open, no criticism of any of them but I don't think they help the image of the neighbourhood:

  • New sex store (in the Sense Appeal space)
  • South Side Tattoos (actually on the north side of Lakeshore)
  • Two new second hand goods stores.
  • A new psychic reader.

I have been doing some analysis (as that is what I do) and some of the results have been quite strange, the neighbourhood contains:

  • There are 26 salons/spas between 1st and 10th. This includes 4 in a row beside the Maple Leaf Tavern (always a solid bet).
  • Two swingers clubs (whatever floats your boat) kitty corner to each other. One also has a strip club.
  • Two money exchanges, again kitty corner from each other. Very close to the pawn shop.
  • There are only 5 chain stores/restaurants between 1st and 4th. Really nothing until you hit the Rabba on 13th,

As mentioned, I do not begrudge any of these business owners who have set up shop here. The BIA and council have to do something to make this a more alluring location. 

There are plenty of great independent businesses in the area. My wife and I try to shop locally, the great thing about this is you get to know the proprietors and their staff. When we walk into one of the diners the waitresses already knows what we will be eating and drinking. There is a great little grocery store that actually has pretty good prices and meat that doesn’t doesn’t look like it was pulled off a brontosaurus. 

We love this community and it's amenities including the lake, parks and recreation facilities. It could be so much more without becoming Bloor West or Lesleyville.

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Very well said, and I am in total agreement.  We have been in the area for 5 years and had hoped for some more positive change, but things seem to be going in the reverse.  We have our favourite spots in the area and try to shop and dine locally, but as you say, some of the new businesses (and long-standing businesses) do not really appeal to our demographic.  I walk down Lakeshore and love to see newer restaurants like Huevos Gourmet, Good Lake and Cellar Door doing great business, and in the next block I am forced to cross the street so that I can avoid the people standing outside of bars, smoking and uttering rude comments.  The latest rumours of a methadone clinic opening up across from our children's school has really made me second-guess where I have chosen to raise my kids (I am not interested in a debate on methadone clinics - I do believe they are needed, however the placement needs to be regulated).  

I don't know if you are on facebook, but a great page has been set up to try and promote the hood and to discuss some of these issues:  https://www.facebook.com/lakeshorevillageresidents/?fref=ts

I think your post would be a great addition to the on-going discussions there.

As Pink Moon mentioned there's a group on Facebook that recently raised many of the same concerns, you may want to contact them:

https://www.facebook.com/lakeshorevillageresidents/?fref=ts

Here are some observations about Retail in New Toronto formed over time:

1.  Retail in Toronto is a tough go on any street. You can see empty spaces on Queen West, King West, Dundas even Roncevalles. If you talk to the retail businesses you love in those places or in our area, most are not making a lot of money.

2. You really need more than one income over walk-in business to be successful here. Our strip of Lakeshore sits between Railroad tracks and a lake, and there's simply not a lot of people walking around during the day looking for a great sandwhich, or a cool pair of shoes.

3. The biggest problem are the building owners. I have seen them come in from far off places to appear at community meetings and disrupt things like farmers markets, improvements in transit etc. You can also judge by the taste used in the many of the facades, and their treatment of renters. I have heard multiple stories of good businesses who start small, create success, only to have their landlord jack up their rent on them, and they have to close or go somewhere else. 

4. Most of my favourite businesses in the area own their own building.

5. I have seen many ernest attempts to take the BIA in a "new" direction but the dysfunction caused by point #3 appears hopeless.

My fantasy is for a benevolent Millionaire to buy up all the buildings on our stretch of Lakeshore, implement a cohesive set of building facades, and create an environment that attracts and retains quality businesses, encouraging them to buy their own building.

In the mean time, I enjoy living in a small town within a big city, where I know all the kids and parents at the various great programs available, where I can walk to the edge of the city in a few minutes and enjoy the Lake, watch Humber College blossom, and still be able to walk up the street for a Schwarma, Banh Mi, awesome brunch, dinner and sometimes live music.

Hi Brian: I totally agree with all of your points! I was looking on the MLS site today and the costs of buildings and rents were insane. Owning your building seems to be the key to success. So many empty buildings for rent or sale. Although they had a For Rent sign up for months the discount clothing place on the corner of Fifth (S) moved out all their merchandise at 2:00 AM...I took a walk from 1st to 10th a few days ago and took some photos of most of the For Rent or Sale signs. I have tried to post them on Facebook but to no avail.

Dan

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