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Posts Tagged ‘West Annex’

Adam Vaughan’s report on the February 16th community meeting with Royal St. George’s College

In Royal St. George's construction on March 3, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Meeting with Adam Vaughan, the West Annex community, and Royal St. George's College on February 16, 2011*

By West Annex News | On Wednesday, February 16, 2011, Councillor Adam Vaughan convened a meeting between the West Annex community and Royal St. George’s College. On February 22, 2011, Councillor Vaughan issued the following report.

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Dear Neighbours of Royal St. George’s College 

Thank you for attending the meeting regarding construction at Royal St George’s College (RSGC) on February 16th.  It was important for the College, my office, and city staff to hear and understand your concerns.

I’m writing to summarize the information and discussion, and to provide information for moving forward.

Construction Plan
Andy Whiteley, Assistant Headmaster of RSGC and Project Manager for the construction at the college, presented an outline of the plans for the site.  These include underground parking, additions to “See House”, which is the middle building on Howland Ave, additional physical activity space, and landscaping.  This plan is available on the RSGC website at click “About Us”, then “Campus Redevelopment” for more information. Preliminary construction is expected to occur for 10 days in March for excavation work.  Construction will then begin again in mid-June, and continue for 16 weeks.  In spring 2012, the landscaping work will occur.

The Portable
As discussed at the meeting, the portable which was used for judo lessons was removed Friday.  The portable was removed in two parts, which will be taken to Mississauga.

Our office received a call Friday morning with concern about the truck going over the sidewalk on Barton and being without escort. We spoke with the college about these concerns, and reiterated the importance of following through with promises.  RSGC responded that the truck was with an escort on the streets (not a police escort, which may have been a misunderstanding), and the truck may have gone on the sidewalk while turning due to the tight corners.  However, the college is aware that these concerns were raised so they can consider them for the future.

At the meeting, RSGC's Andrew Whiteley issued his standard promises to respect bylaws, which were received with widespread skepticism by the audience. RSGC has a long and shameful record of breaking bylaws and promises. Adam Vaughan assured the community that this time, bylaw enforcement "will be vigorous."*

Interruption of Services
Residents raised concerns about interruption of services.  Royal St George’s College confirmed at the meeting that no service disruptions are expected to take place.  The utility companies or City of Toronto contractors (for water and sewer) will make the connections live.  If RSGC becomes aware that there may be an unforeseen interruption, they will provide as much notice as possible, but have no ability to control the occurrence as the connections are done by the utility companies or the City of Toronto contractors.  To be clear, the service providers have indicated that they do not foresee any interruptions.

Noise
Questions were raised about construction noise, and how this can disrupt peace for everyone, and in some cases impact people who work from home.  Royal St George’s College plans to do construction from Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm.  This is the standard by which all construction in the City is set (see the noise by-law at http://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/municode/1184_591.pdf).  In their Construction Management Plan (available here: http://www.rsgc.on.ca/site/royal_st__george_s_college/assets/pdf/Construction_Management_Plan.2011.02.16.pdf), which was created as part of their approval process, RSGC indicate that in addition to working within the by-laws, they will not be doing exterior work on Saturdays.   If any construction activity occurs outside of permitted hours, enforcement will be vigorous.

A resident on Howland, across from RSGC, requested that the College ask their workers to be respectful of neighbouring properties when taking a break. The neighbour used the example of smoking on her property. RSGC indicated that they would speak to their contractors about respecting the community.

Traffic Plan
At the meeting, RSGC said that approximately 900 dump trucks will be needed to remove soil from the site. This is radically different from the original number of 500 trucks. When questioned about this difference, RSGC responded that there was a miscalculation as they hadn’t taken into account that soil expands when unsettled from the ground.

The community then discussed five options for truck routing, to decide which streets these trucks should take in March, when excavating, and from June onward.  After discussing the options, with information from Ron Hamilton, a Manager of Traffic Operations at the City of Toronto, a vote was taken and Option 1 was decided on for the March work, and Option 2 was decided on for the rest of the construction. Option 1 is south on Howland to RSGC, exit on Albany, South on Albany to Barton, West on Barton to Bathurst.  Option 2 is east on Barton then north on Albany to RSGC, and exiting using the same streets.

Space for three trucks will be on the site, and the staging area will be at Bridgman and MacPherson.  Trucks will be radioed in when needed so there are no trucks on the street.

The Construction Management Plan is part of the RSGC’s tendering process, meaning that contractors have to agree to adhere to this truck routing and the rest of the plan in order to get the job.

Construction Management Committee

Councillor Vaughan said the community--not RSGC--gets to choose the community representatives to the various committees that will oversee the construction. RSGC must provide contact information to the community for everyone who serves on the committees.*

A Construction Management Committee is being finalized.  Their membership includes Andy Whiteley of RSGC, Rudy, the Construction Manager, several community representatives, and a City of Toronto representative.  The group plans to meet for the first time March 3.

As I said at the meeting, the community should choose its own representatives on the Construction Management Committee.  An important principle for this to be an effective, accountable, transparent process is the contact information for the members needs to be public and accessible.  At the meeting February 16, it was decided that at least three more members from the community are joining the committee to ensure interested groups have a voice.  The Neighbours of St Alban’s Park will put forward a member to be added to the Committee.  Ko Van Klaveren will represent the Annex residents Association on the committee.  The community was asked if anyone else would like to join, and James Jacobs volunteered to join the committee.  Other neighbours on the committee include Bruce Twining, Michael Low, and others.  When the membership is finalized in the coming days, the contact information for the members will be made public.  You will be able to contact your neighbours with concerns so issues can be raised at future meetings.

Contact information
If there are any problems with work being done outside permitted hours, or other construction related concerns, there are several routes you can take:

– RSGC has now posted a 24-hour emergency cell phone number, which is 416 533-9481 x 230.
– You can contact the Assistant Headmaster of RSGC and Project Manager, Andy Whiteley, at 416 533-9481, or awhiteley@rsgc.on.ca.  The Construction Manager, Rudy, will be on site the entire time, and Andy will be able to reach him if a problem arises.
– You can contact the Construction Management Committee, whose contact information will be available once finalized shortly.

– Municipal Licensing and Standards can send a by-law officer to the site to investigate if by-laws are not being followed.  You can request an MLS officer by calling 3-1-1 or emailing311@toronto.ca.

– My office can be reached at 416 392-4044, or email Rebecca Hewitt of my staff at rhewitt@toronto.ca.  She can contact the appropriate people on your behalf.We will be watching this project closely and ensuring there is a public process in place.  Thanks again for attending the meeting and sharing your thoughts.

Sincerely,

Adam

Councillor Adam Vaughan
Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina
416-392-4044
Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West
2nd Floor, Suite C50
Toronto, ON      M5H 2N2
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*Note: the captions under the photographs are by West Annex News, and not Adam Vaughan.

Further notes: We’ve learned that the first meeting of the committees convene tonight, March 3, at 7:00PM at the See House.  Royal St. George’s College has not publicized this information, nor have they provided any agendas to the community.

Notwithstanding the resolutions reached at the February 16 community meeting:
  • Royal St. George’s College continues to insist that the four neighbours it hand-picked as community representatives for the committees–Michael Low, Fabian Rucker, Greg Vogt, and Patrick Thompson–will serve on the committees.
  • Royal St. George’s College has yet to provide the community with contact information for any of the committee members.

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For further articles and information about Royal St. George’s College construction, visit the RSGC Construction home page and RSGC Construction Archive.

Arrivals & Departures | Rowe Farms at 468 Bloor Street West: meat for the elite

In Arrivals & Departures, Eating & Drinking on January 28, 2011 at 11:59 PM

Rowe Farms retail store opened at 468 Bloor Street West on January 28, 2011

By West Annex News | After waiting almost a month for their hydro hookup, the Rowe Farms retail store at 468 Bloor Street West finally opened its doors in the West Annex today. Rowe Farms takes over the space vacated by Organics on Bloor in the first half of 2010.

Many in the neighbourhood will be familiar with Rowe Farms meat products from Fiesta Farms and from the Rowe Farms outlet in the north building of St. Lawerence Market. Many do not know however that founder John Rowe sold his operation a few years back. The new ownership is expanding the brand with a string of retail outlets in various family-friendly, upper middle-class neighbourhoods in Toronto, including the Beach, Roncesvalles, Leslieville, and Bloor West Village.

The frozen and refrigerated packaged meat cases, with butcher counter at the rear

While waiting for the opening of the store on the West Annex Bloor strip, we visited the Roncesvalles store, which has a similar floor plan to that of the West Annex shop. It’s an attractive, well-organized space, offering the full selection of Rowe Farms meat, poultry, and prepared meat products like sausages and meat balls.

The outside sign is green, the walls inside are green, and even the shades on the light fixtures are green. Yes, the theme is local and sustainable with an emphasis on animal welfare. Rowe Farms’ slogan is “Quality with a Conscience” and the website recites a farming philosophy of “locally-grown, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, conscientiously-farmed, nitrite-cured (100% nitrate-free)”. Note: while the meat may be all that, the butcher at the Roncesvalles shop acknowledged to us that Rowe Farms products are not organic.

The store also offers a selection of products from other local producers including Organic Meadow dairy products, Anton Kozlick’s Mustards, and eggs, salad greens, and other prepared foods.

The store offers a wide range of Organic Meadow dairy products, like Organics on Bloor before it

In addition to offering frozen and refrigerated packaged meat products in the large coolers that line the sides of the shop, there’s a butcher’s counter at the back, staffed by a real live butcher.

The butcher counter

The West Annex Bloor strip has been without a butcher shop since a rent increase caused the owner of Elizabeth Deli and Meat Market to lock the doors and walked away from her thriving store at 410 Bloor Street West in December of 2005. Some will welcome Rowe Farms as the return of a basic neighbourhood amenity to Bloor Street.

But is Rowe Farms a basic amenity?

Elizabeth’s was a full service butcher and European-style delicatessen. It contained its own smokehouse on the second floor where staff prepared sausages, hams and other meats. Elizabeth’s offered a wide variety of products at an equally wide range of prices.  It attracted a socio-economically diverse clientele.

Rowe Farms’ retail model is decidedly different. During the week starting December 31, 2010, we compared the price of selected Rowe Farms products at Fiesta Farms against the equivalent product in other local supermarkets. We found that the Rowe Farms’ prices per kilogram were consistently the most expensive, often double or more the lowest price amongst the competition.  Some examples:

  • Pork loin centre chop boneless:  Rowe Farms $26.99; Loblaws “Free From” $15.41; Metro “Traditionally Raised” $12.76; Metro regular $12.99; Price Chopper $12.10;  No Frills: $11.40; Fiesta Farms $11.00;
  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs:  Rowe Farms: $19.82; Loblaws “Free From” and Price Chopper $15.41; Metro (Prime) $14.64; No Frills $13.44; Fiesta Farms (Prime) $12.99
  • Extra lean ground beef:  Rowe Farms: $16.99; Fiesta Farms (ground Angus) $15.41; Loblaws President’s Choice Blue Menu (Angus Sirloin) $13.21; No Frills $9.44; Metro: $8.80; Price Chopper $8.45.

Rowe Farms boneless skinless chicken thighs $19.82 per kg

There are legitimate reasons why “traditionally raised” meats cost more. As Rachel Hahn pointed out in her article Like Sex in the City, but with meat: Toronto’s Gourmet Butcher Scene, “farmers who don’t use a factory farm model . . . spend more money per animal. If animals are free-range, there’s more space to pay for and if they’re free of hormones and antibiotics, they take longer to become ready for slaughter.”

Torontonians are in the grip of a so-called ethical and healthy meat craze. Nose to tail eating and charcuterie plates reign in Toronto’s trendiest restaurants, and indie butchers are eclipsing indie coffee shops as the hottest trend in retail.

Centre cut boneless pork chop $26.99 per kg

Hahn quotes Toronto celebrity butcher Peter Sanagan of Kensington Market’s Sanagan’s Meat Locker in explaining the trend: “In Ontario we are not as lucky as, say, California or Vancouver where they have a more temperate growing zone where vegetables have a longer season. But meat is something we can do well, and it’s all year round.” But Sanagan is honest enough to acknowledge that the movement towards local produce is a “privilege trend” because of the cost.

The proliferation of high-end butcher shops–variously described as green, healthy, ethical, organic, local, and conscientious–is more evidence that Toronto is becoming a city of stark socio-economic extremes, the work of The Stop and Food Share in promoting local and healthy foods for low-income Torontonians notwithstanding.

Organics on Bloor shuttered its doors in early 2010

And are these meats really all that green and ethical?

After energy production, livestock is the second highest contributor to atmosphere-altering gases.  Nearly one fifth of all greenhouse gas is generated by livestock production, more than all modes of transportation combined.

And four hundred scientists in 34 countries recently compiled a report for the British Government about the overstressed global food system, and the need for it to expand to feed a projected 9.5 billion people in 2050. Professor Charles Godfray, one of the report’s lead authors told Jessica Leeder of the Globe and Mail that “consumer demand for unsustainable goods will have to be harnessed. This includes meats, the production of which creates a huge drag on the environment.  It would just be impossible for the global population to consume meat at the rate we do in North America and Europe.”

In “Attention Whole Food Shoppers” in Foreign Policy Magazine, Robert Paarlberg observes how local, organic and slow food has become an elite preoccupation in the West. “The hope that we can help others by changing our shopping and eating habits is being wildly oversold to Western consumers. If we are going to get serious about solving global hunger, we need to de-romanticize our view of preindustrial food and farming. Factory farming is essential to feed the hunger-plagued rest of the world.”

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For more on the myth of green and ethical meat, see Mark Bittman’s What’s wrong with what we eat:


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Note: interior photographs are of the Roncesvalles store.

In Arrivals & Departures, we watch the changes in the commercial/retail strips of the West Annex on Bloor, Bathurst, and Dupont Streets, and think about these changes in the context of Jane Jacobs’ analysis that popularity on retail strips can lead to commercial monocultures and store vacancies and Max Fawcett’s thesis that the Annex is un-gentrifying.

For related articles, visit the Arrivals & Departures archive.


Arrivals & Departures: Lettieri Espresso Bar and Hero Certified Burgers at 581 Bloor Street West

In Arrivals & Departures, Eating & Drinking on January 9, 2011 at 2:23 AM

Lettieri Espresso Bar closed its doors for good on December 30, 2010

Another one bites the dust . . .

By West Annex News | Coffee Corner, Java Junction, or Corporate Coffee Headquarter; whatever you call the aggregation of coffee shops around Bloor Street West and Albany Avenue, the group suffered its first fatality at the end of 2010 when Lettieri Expresso Bar on the south-west corner of Bathurst and Bloor quietly closed its doors on December 30.  A note posted on the front door reads: “After eight years of making fresh espresso, Lettieri Espresso Bar will be closed on December 30, 2010.  We have loved being a part of this community.  It has been an absolute joy serving you. Wish you all have a very happy new year.”

Good-bye note from Lettieri franchise owner Joe Lee | click to enlarge

Signs already hang in the windows announcing that a Hero Certified Burgers will be moving in to the 581 Bloor Street West space.  The Lettieri website says cryptically that Lettieri is “co-branding with Hero Certified Burgers”.  Lettieri directs readers to the Hero website for further information, but we found no mention there of Lettieri or of co-branding. John Lettieri is the founder of both the Lettieri Espresso Bar and Hero Certified Burgers franchises.

Honest Ed's signage overwhelmed that of Lettieri

It’s hard to say what lead to the demise of Lettieri. Once inside the shop, it was an attractive, soothing, light-filled space with large east-facing windows looking out on Bathurst Street.  And Lettieri made arguably the best-tasting espresso-based drinks of all the chains located on the West Annex Bloor strip. But tucked in the north-east corner of Honest Ed’s, the garish extravagance of  Ed’s signage overwhelmed that of Lettieri’s; it was easy to forget the coffee shop was even there.

And Bathurst Street still forms a considerable psychological barrier for Annex shoppers. Although the number of non-Korean-themed shops establishing themselves west of Bathurst on the Bloor West strip is increasing, many shoppers still hold on to the notion that Bloor west of Bathurst is a Korean ethnic enclave with little to offer shoppers who do not share that ethnicity.   As we noted in a previous post, the stiff competition with four major coffee chain outlets killed a local tea shop in 2010. With that competition located on the more desirable West Annex side of Bathurst, the few extra steps to cross the street into Koreatown apparently proved a few steps too far for Lettieri’s survival.

Lettieri Espresso Bar was located at the south west corner of Bathurst and Bloor, in Honest Ed’s

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In Arrivals & Departures, we watch the changes in the commercial/retail strips of the West Annex on Bloor, Bathurst, and Dupont Streets, and think about these changes in the context of Jane Jacobs’ analysis that popularity on retail strips can lead to commercial monocultures and store vacancies and Max Fawcett’s thesis that the Annex is un-gentrifying.

Visit the Arrivals & Departures archive.