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At a Packed Meeting, Kensington Market Says “No” to Walmart

Kensington Market residents turned out in droves to decry plans to build a Walmart on the neighbourhood's western edge.

A rendering of the proposed shopping centre. Image courtesy of Turner Fleischer Architects.

There’s no doubt the City was expecting a fight at Thursday’s community consultation on a developer’s plan to build a three-storey shopping centre near Kensington Market’s western border. Even so, the size of the crowd was beyond anyone’s expectations. Inside the College Street United Church, people spilled out around the pews, into the lobby, and out onto the patio.

The occasion for the meeting was developer RioCan’s proposal to demolish several properties near Bathurst and Nassau streets, including the now-empty Kromer Radio building, and construct a new three-storey commercial building that will include Walmart as an anchor tenant. The new building, if approved, would have about 12,000 square metres of retail space. The plans call for this to be broken up into eight to 10 commercial units along the ground floor, with Walmart on the upper floors. There will also be a below-ground parking lot built to accommodate approximately 300 cars.

Although the crowd appeared to be overwhelmingly opposed to this development, the meeting started on a respectful note.

After introductions from the City Planning folks, who gave an overview of the location (410 to 446 Bathurst), and an update on what’s being proposed (though, notably, they didn’t mention the name Walmart even once), the floor was given to a RioCan consultant, Mark Noskiewicz. While some other RioCan representatives were in the building, they largely stayed silent, letting Noskiewicz, and often the City Planners, speak on their behalf.

RioCan’s big message was that it’s confident the development will fit into the City’s plans, and that it will be a good thing for the community (the latter point drew jeers from the audience). Noskiewicz said the company has sent studies to the City that found that neighbourhood retailers will not be adversely affected, and that the shopping centre won’t create gridlock. Again, the crowd did not react favourably.

Walmart wasn’t present at the meeting, and said in a news release that “out of respect for the city planning process and to allow the details of the developer’s overall proposal to be fully reviewed, Walmart Canada will not attend tonight’s meeting regarding the proposed RioCan development for the Kromer Radio site at Bathurst and College.” This likely made for a more productive discussion.

Walmart goes here. Image from Google Street View.

After Noskiewicz had wrapped up, Councillors Mike Layton (Ward 19, Trinity-Spadina) and Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) spoke. Both drew thunderous applause. Layton, who said he has been working on this issue for a year and eight months, was clear that both men are opposed to the development, because it seems like it could hurt the area’s small businesses.

Vaughan was even more explicit, stating that “this project must be stopped.”

Both councillors believe that a big-box store would be detrimental to local businesses, and disruptive to the local community. In a letter handed out at the meeting, they cite concerns about traffic flow in the area, as well as decreased walkability.

“People don’t walk to stores in a walkable city, they walk through neighbourhoods with stores,” said Vaughan while at the podium. “Big box is the antithesis of a walkable city.”

Vaughan didn’t mince words when addressing RioCan.

“If Kensington Market bleeds one drop of blood, it will be on your good name,” he stated, to thunderous applause.


Related:

This Shopping Centre Could Be Coming to Kensington Market


The remainder of the meeting was handed over to community members for questions and comments. The line to speak ran right out the door of the church. Virtually every speaker—even one brave enough to admit that she’d shopped at a Walmart just that day—was opposed to the development.

Concerns were mainly focused on how the development would change the face of the neighbourhood, how a big-box store would impact locals, increased traffic and gridlock, and the health of local small businesses. There were also specific concerns about bringing Walmart to the community, and a number of speakers raised questions about the potential for environmental damage and higher rates of crime. Others, including the church’s minister, raised Walmart’s poor record as an employer.

Here were a few comments that really got the crowd on their feet:

  • One resident pointed out that Toronto has a long history of activism. Downtown residents have worked to stop the Spadina Expressway, rallied to protect women’s rights, protested war, and, more recently, opposed the G20 and the OLG’s proposed Toronto casino. “You’re messing with the wrong neighbourhood,” she said. “Good luck, hope it’s a fair fight.”
  • A 30-year Kensington Market resident reminded the crowd that the development will cause ripples beyond the local community. As he put it, “If you have flesh-eating disease in the thumb, it is not just the thumb that is affected.”
  • Louis, who said he lives nearby, reminded the crowd that they do have a voice. As he pointed out, 60 communities have fought back against Walmart and won.

As for the last point, a slide in the City’s presentation said that planners will look at a number of factors when deciding whether to green-light this project. They’ll consider the shopping centre’s relationship with nearby properties, its effects on nearby shops and businesses, its impact on traffic, and how it supports specialty retailers.


Related:

With Loblaws a Possibility, Kensington Market Gets Anxious


Lynda Macdonald, a manager in the City’s planning division, told Torontoist after the event that the City will be taking public input into account. She said that while planners have been reviewing an online petition that now has more than 70,000 signatures, it’s not as meaningful to the City as discussions at community events.

“We are taking it into account, but because it’s an online petition it’s very difficult for us to know where they’re coming from,” she explained. “We know they are coming from all over the country, so what we’re trying to gauge is what the community is saying, and how many of those signatures come from the community.”

Because of the large turnout, the City will host a second public meeting about the development. For those interested in attending, it will be held on July 9 at 7 p.m., in council chambers at City Hall.

The City’s final report on the proposal is set to come out at the end of the year. No matter the outcome, it’s likely that this fight won’t end any time soon.

Comments

  • iSkyscraper

    Wow, didn’t realize downtown Toronto had turned into New York City (where activism has also kept Wal-Mart at bay despite Target and Costco being all over the place).

    People need to stop watching Wal-mart documentaries and realize that big box is already here. It’s all over the downtown already. They also invented this thing called the internet, turns out you can buy stuff on it. The development of this store would not have destroyed Kensington.

    Large-scale eyesores don’t get redeveloped into cutesy, tiny, money-losing boutiques. Whatever comes next on this site is going to be much worse than what was proposed.

    Urban centres everywhere are finding ways to fit big boxes into vertical, walkable shopping clusters – this proposal was right up that alley and perfectly reasonable. (See the new Target in SoMa in SF as a comp).

    Big boxes may not be liked but they are here to stay and if downtown doesn’t hold onto mainstream retail people will move their shopping to the suburbs, driving cars to do so and burdening transportation.

    Shame that Toronto didn’t get the memo.

    • OgtheDim

      “Large-scale eyesores don’t get redeveloped into cutesy, tiny, money-losing boutiques.”

      Distillery District

      • iSkyscraper

        Excellent point, but there you are talking about adaptive re-use, which sways the economic argument. New construction on a large site, not so easy to make work.

        You can hold out for a Distillery District type row of new stores on Bathurst, but I think you will be waiting a very long time.

        • OgtheDim

          I think you are assuming that there is only one way to do things.

          Rio-Can thinking to a Tee.

          • iSkyscraper

            Unfortunately that’s how developers think. They chase triple-net tenants that their banks will finance and thereby avoid any risk. Few will finance out of their own pocket new construction for an independent small store with no credit and no financial history, which is why these uses rarely are found in new construction. Fortunately there are ample places in Kensington Market for them to grow in already while this centre provided for the mainstream stores (and kept them out of Kensington proper at the same time). At least that was the plan, I assume. I’m not local to the story, I don’t even work in Toronto, just providing some insight into the process.

            If the big boxes are chased away, I guess a condo with ground floor retail (read: Starbucks/Bank/Shoppers) will be the result. Enjoy.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      “Whatever comes next on this site is going to be much worse than what was proposed.”

      What makes you say that?

      • andrew97

        I think we can all agree that what the site needs is a gigantic-ass condo development.

        • OgtheDim

          And such a condo development would be preferred by many of the people who oppose the current proposal.

    • Jahnny

      Paul Godfrey should go and build this Walmart right next to his McMansion. Time for this goomba to retire.

    • Bytowner

      Why are you demanding immediate surrender?

  • SmarterThanYou86

    I’ve been a bit flip floppy on this issue…

    On the one hand I love Kensington Market and I want the “grungy beauty” of the neighborhood to stay – HOWEVER – for every cute, successful shop or cafe, there is a run down derelict, unkept store that sells the same trash found close by in china town – I guess what I’m saying, is that the neighborhood needs to be lifted out of it’s gentrification and sometimes healthy competition from new developments starts the trend of the old trash moving out and better new things coming in. Although – all this being said, I hate Walmart – so maybe not THAT kind of development.

    I think the current CEO of close by Honest Eds expressed my feelings the best when he was asked if he was scared of a possible Walmart coming in, he mentioned how competition has come and gone over the years, but Honest Eds has a strong enough business model and community support to stay afloat through it all.

    So yah, if the stores in Kensington are so great (and some of them really are), wouldn’t they survive a new development, even one with a Walmart in it? (But oh god I hope not)

    See, flip floppy, sorry – I’m usually at the front of the pack waving my nimby pinko flag – was actually kind of sad when I had to take down my “No Casino” sign after we won that battle, it looked so good on my front porch :)

    • HotDang

      Wall mart is more of a threat to Kensington’s vibe than its businesses. They aren’t going to be competing with the shop selling wonderful pies for $20 apiece or the shop selling delicious bagels for $5 a half-dozen. They won’t be competing with the used clothing shops, or the head shop, or the dive bars, or the cheese shops. Kensington shoppers aren’t there for anything remotely like a wall mart experience.

      Off the top of my head I can’t think of a shop in Kensington that targets the same market as wall mart. Maybe that shitty Zimmerman’s place but no one shops there.

      • Rachel

        I shop there.

        • HotDang

          Sorry to hear that.

          • K@

            But that’s a very important — and in this particular forum, brave! — statement. Rachel is simply exercising her option to shop at this legal business. Because she HAS that option. And you, HotDang, can opt not.

            However, the Kensington protesters want this legal business to be forbidden to open up shop nearby — not in, but nearby, mind you; and believe me, if I opened up a big successful veggie store where Kromer was and advertised myself as a Kensington Market shop, the market merchants would go bonkers — simply because they don’t like Walmart or its policies. Fine, then. Go picket Walmart. And Second Cup. And Starbucks. And McDonald’s. And etc. etc. etc. And don’t shop at any of them

            In the meantime, I’ve yet to hear a single fact-based argument that a Walmart — NEARby — would cause real harm to the market beyond creating more FAIR (simply being bigger isn’t “unfair” if you do it legally; even if I don’t like how you got there) competition. But the real reason behind their howling — an ingrained fear of any change and a deep distaste for a company’s policies — and the chance that’s all they’ll need to succeed in keeping a legitimate business from opening up wherever it chooses to in this city — is a real concern for me.

            What happens when they decide they simply don’t like the legal business you or I would like to open — again, not even “in” but merely “nearby” ;-) — next?

          • HotDang

            Most businesses being opened don’t draw complaints. Generally there is a reasonable reason. E.g. people are concerned about their health or property values or maybe occasionally for silly morality reasons.

            Wal Mart is a bit different though because their opposition is concerned about their business model of undercutting small businesses and opposing labor organization. They are more against common good than most other businesses are, oil companies notwithstanding.

            I don’t think a wall mart will destroy the market. It might have destroyed what the market was ten years ago. But if the locals don’t want one they should have the right to deny access.

          • K@

            HotDang, Believe it or not, I am not a Walmart apologist — though in the name of full disclosure, yes I have shopped there and likely will again. I agree totally that a lot of what they do to achieve their success is completely unpalatable. But I’m still not hearing, in your response, any details of how it will harm (vs. add pressure via some increased competition) the surrounding community — which SHOULD be the basis for keeping it away. Can anyone help me see what I’m clearly not, here and what so many of you seem to be seeing so clearly? Do we not have laws exactly for this reason? Because they’re intended to be objective and with the best interest of the majority in mind. In other words, to keep the subjective (e.g. individual and/or collective dogma/distaste, etc.) from being used to control others who present no threat beyond the fact that they simply disagree and/or operate differently.

          • HotDang

            I don’t think it would be entirely neutral but I don’t think it would kill the market either. I just think that if the residents don’t want it, that’s their choice. A free market is a great solution to a lot of problems, but if people choose to go against that, (even it’s not in their best interest, which isn’t relevant to this discussion), they should be free to. Democracy should always come first.

          • K@

            ‘kay then. Thanks for answering. And hope you’re as chill when someone prevents you from doing something harm-free and legal simply because they don’t like/agree with what you’re up to. Especially when they condescendingly claim that they’re doing it for your own good.

          • magarets

            The Kensington community does not see this Walmart as “harm-free”. YOU do, but they don’t.
            They don’t want it, and they don’t buy into the “free market” argument.
            And it’s their community, not yours.
            You know how some people are into polyamory but others prefer monogamy? It’s like that. So back off.

    • PK

      Have you walked around inside Honest Ed’s lately? It’s a graveyard, and more of its site is being leased to franchises at street level…

      Whatever Honest Ed’s is saying about the state of their business is not the whole story. Heck, I expect Ed’s to close in 5-10 years, with condos coming shortly after.

      • HotDang

        Outside Honest Ed’s is no grave yard. Bloor and Bathurst is very busy. The street corners at that intersection are typically overflowing with pedestrians, and the building houses a lot of street level retail shops. E.g. Sonic Boom, The One Burger Place, a news stand, and The Wine Rack.

        • tyrannosaurus_rek

          I think PK’s point was that Ed’s is leasing out more and more of its footprint, possibly because business isn’t going so well.

          • HotDang

            I hope so. Honest Ed’s is terrible. They treat their employees worse than any wall mart I’ve heard of. And their merchandise is far worse to boot.

            You’re right though. Somehow I read inside as outside. My mistake.

          • PK

            Yes, that was precisely my point. Seeing Sonic Boom in the space has been lovely, for the record.

            My concern was inside Ed’s, and whether Honest Ed’s itself is still relevant, given that Dollarama is a few doors down and RioCan is making their presence known south of College. I haven’t been inside Ed’s in years, despite their bargains!

    • Dana Salama

      The people and businesses you are calling “trash” have helped build a community. They will suffer economically from a big-box store. Just because you may see something as trash, doesn’t mean that it should suffer– and Wal-Mart has historically caused suffering (this does not make me a Wal-Mart basher, it makes me someone who looks at the facts.) Kensington Market offers sentimental value with every little thing it sells, and Wal-Mart will destroy that irrevocably. Kensington Market is a pocket of this city that deserves our protection. Even if you shop at big-box stores, you owe it to your city to protect diversity and community spirit. And you must admit, if there’s a giant store invading Kensington Market, walking through the streets and experiencing the smells and sights of Kensington will never be the same.

  • K@

    Hoo-boy… THIS one hit a nerve!
    If I may…

    I live at King and Niagara. And already there’s not a thing in Kensington Market
    that I couldn’t get — easily! — anywhere else, not only in town, but DOWNtown. OR ONLINE! And yet I CHOOSE to make an effort to shop there, pretty much bi-weekly at minimum. The population in the neighbourhood surrounding Kensington has mushroomed, particularly in the past decade. And that growth isn’t showing any sign of slowing. This community is in need of numerous additional supports and services in terms of local infrastructure. That said, why can’t it more than support all kinds of retail options?

    Ah, “options”… there’s the rub, really, no? I see a HUGE unremarked-upon pachyderm in the corner of the room whenever this kind of “debate” (overreaction) flares up — and it looks very much (and very uncomfortably, to me) like this: The unspoken implication here is that someone who chooses to purchase at, say, a Walmart instead of from an independent seller, say, in Kensington Market, is making a LESS “noble/righteous” buying decision. And why, exactly, is that, please? [Note: While you're typing your answer on your guaranteed-made-by-exploited-workers-in-Asia device, please be careful to not get any excess irony on the screen, thanks.]

    I’ve yet to get an honest reply to that question. But nevermind. Sound the alarms! DEFCON 1! Circle the wagons! Can’t entrust people (read: the un-enlightened/less-enlightened simply-not-left-leaning-enough-for-us hoi polloi) to actually be allowed to exercise their full freedom of choice here, but rather let’s save them from their poor not-bright-or-ethical-enough-to-make-the-”right”-choice-themselves selves — in the name of saving all the business people in Kensington who, last I looked and like all business people everywhere, freely accept (or should be!) the risks of competition every single day that they open their doors — and let’s simply exert our more informed/more virtuous control by simply limiting the consumers’ options altogether in order to stack the deck in the “good” guys’ favour. Freedom for women, gay folks, activists, artists, democracy, the media, etc. etc. etc. ? Absolutely! Always! But full freedom for the marketplace to make its own decisions? Not so much. Clearly some pigs ARE more equal than others after all and “we” will decide what’s good (again, read: ethical) for you.

    And I got a biiiiig problem with that. If enough people disagree with a Walmart opening up the the neighbourhood and simply decide to not shop there, believe me, Walmart will simply board up shop and leave — and in no time flat, anaconda their whole deal is famously bottom-line-based. But why can’t each and every individual consumer be allowed to “own” their own choices — and whatever “moral” implications lie therein — about whether to shop at one or not? Who the hell is anyone else to make that decision for me?

    Kensington has survived progress, growth and gentrification in this city for generations. It’s an enclave (and a unique and beautiful one at that!) and will continue to exist — and thrive — for its charm, character and the quality and competitiveness of its wares regardless of what other retail emerges close-by. Or it won’t. Time — alone! — should tell. (S’called evolution, baby! Works wonders in nature too. ;-) However, a Toronto that is automatically NIMBYist and reflexively anti-growth/anti-change at every single turn will forever be wasting its time reacting to the constant and reactionary din of fear and limited-self-interest instead of using that energy to formulate reasonable, clear-headed, focused — and COMPREHENSIVE — long-term development plans; ones that benefit all kinds of different wants/needs/agendas among all the different kinds of people who call this once-and-potentially-again great city we live in home.

    Just sayin’…

    • nevilleross

      Here’s the info on Wal-Mart that you’ve not bothered to pay attention to:

      http://www.hel-mart.com/links.php

      Maybe after this you’ll shut your ignorant piehole and understand why people don’t want Wal-Mart around them.

  • https://paul.kishimoto.name/ Paul Kishimoto

    SIGNAGE >SIGN

  • vampchick21

    My thought is, just how many Walmarts do we need? There’s one at the Dufferin Mall, a quick transit ride away from Kensington, one in Gerrard Square (according to the Walmart Canada website, been a long time since I was out that way), one on St. Clair, one on Lawerance, one on Jane and about two each in Scarborough and Etobicoke. I live within a 15 minute walk from Dufferin Mall and I can’t remember the last time I went to a Walmart. My point is, there are Walmarts close to the core and around the edges, do we really need one at Bathurst and Nassau? I’m not anti-big box store in general, but I do roll my eyes at times over how many the corporation in question and developers think we need.

    • K@

      How long is a piece of string? A free marketplace best decides the answer to that question. However, when an individual or group decides that instead, someone with different wants/needs/interests that that person or group will ultimately have some or all of those things unmet. What happens when it’s you that’s in that latter group? Fear — which is what’s driving the Kensington reaction right now — is never a good way to determine policy that does its best to meet the broadest needs of any community.

      • magarets

        “A free marketplace best decides the answer … However, when an individual or group decides that instead”
        Uh, who do you think makes up the “free” marketplace? Robots? Not individuals and groups? Walmart isn’t a group?

        • K@

          In a free marketplace, individuals and groups exercise their decision-making power buy choosing to buy or not to buy — NOT by limiting what is available to all to buy, based on their determination of what they and/or their community needs. Big difference.

          • OgtheDim

            Your presumption about what makes a city is flawed.

            We don’t have a free marketplace when it comes to city zoning.

            Nor should we.

            Just because a developer says they want to and can sell what they build doesn’t mean the city as a whole has to build anything in any space.

          • K@

            I’m not talking about a completely unfettered marketplace, where anything’s a “go” regardless, say, of how a company pollutes or how many people its products harm. HOWEVER, competition in the marketplace is not lethal to human beings, in and of itself. And that is what the Kensington protesters seem to be most afraid of, here. In fact, competition is a very healthy component of a healthy marketplace — and a healthy marketplace is an important component for any healthy, living, growing community. (Hey, if you’re a Darwin fan, competition’s not too shabby for the health and survival of all kinds of living things! ;-)

          • vampchick21

            So is a Walmart or other Big Box store fair competition for an area like Kensington Market? Or unfair?

          • K@

            Okay, let’s talk “fair”. Walmart is huge — which is simply a result of its success. Success is what every single business on the planet strives for. So…how is it “unfair” of Walmart to be bigger than other businesses it competes with? Does it suck to be unable to compete with another business because you’re simply too small? Absolutely. But how is that “unfair”? See? Lots of emotional rhetoric surrounding this issue, but I haven’t seen a whole lot of logic…yet. And in my experience, an balance of both tends to result in outcomes that benefit more people…

          • vampchick21

            Ok, so let’s try this again. Walmart has a Super Centre at Dufferin Mall, which isn’t really all that far away. Apparently they have another store at Gerrard Square, another (although slightly longer) streetcar ride away. They have two stores nearby, one fairly large. Do they NEED to be at Bathurst and Nassau? Does it SUIT the area of Kensington Market and it’s outer edges? Have those residents been crying out for a brand spanking new Walmart at their doorstep? Just because a store is really big and successful does not mean it’s a good fit just anywhere.

          • vampchick21

            (I should also point out that just because a customer gave the cashier their postal code in one of those annoying ‘surveys’ does not mean that customer is dying for one of those stores nearby.)

          • OgtheDim

            I regularly give Make 5 Weiners, I’ll Eat 6.

          • OgtheDim

            You might want to consider not using the phrase “a free marketplace best decides….” then.

            BTW, if you think Wal-mart is an example of how a free marketplace operates, you havn’t been watching.

          • K@

            “BTW, if you think Wal-mart is an example of how a free marketplace operates, you havn’t been watching.”

            Details please.

          • magarets

            There are whole BOOKS about Walmart’s business practices. Read them.

          • K@

            Have, thanks. And many of the books out there are also taught in the most respected business schools and read by business people who also want to emulate Walmart’s success, btw… (Including me. And I’ve run small businesses for most of my career. :-)

          • magarets

            Oh, you’ve read ALL the books about Walmart, have you?

          • K@

            Okay, now you’re just being silly.
            I’m outta here.
            But thanks for taking some time to share your thoughts.
            Cheers!

          • magarets

            Translation: You finally realized that you are uninformed about the topic and can’t defend your position.

          • K@

            Yes. That’s it.
            Have a nice day magarets.

          • PlantinMoretus

            Your history shows that you have only ever commented on this Walmart issue and the expansion of the Island airport, advocating for both. I smell a paid internet shill.

          • K@

            LOL! Sorry to starve a budding paranoid fantasy in its infancy, but alas no. Am just another long-term resident of downtown T.O. who also passionately loves my city and happens to find it nauseating when my lockstep-lefty friends and acquaintances (and that’s most of my friends and acquaintences, btw) get outraged in yet another reactive NiMBYist kneejerk-off and become so blinded by their fear, outrage and self-righteous-self-interested-not-at-all-inclusive-or-even-acknowledging-of-any-other-lifestyles-viewpoints-or-interests-but-their-own (oddly exactly the things they site when saying why they loathe the right…!) senses of entitlement they fail to see the absolute hypocrisy in their approaches their protests. And the approaches both the anti-island-airport crowd and the Kensington Market protesters are taking are, to me, exactly identical in that very way — all selfish emotional outburst and almost no supportable rationales or logic. So, yep, I finally hit my limit and could stay silent no longer, which is why you haven’t seen me here previously. So… that enough explanation to earn me your trust and respect and agreement that I’ve got a legitimate right to be here? ;-)

          • K@

            LOL! Sorry to starve a budding paranoid fantasy in its infancy, but alas no. Am just another long-term resident of downtown T.O. who also passionately loves my city and happens to find it nauseating when my lockstep-lefty friends and acquaintances (and that’s most of my friends and acquaintences, btw) get outraged in yet another reactive NiMBYist kneejerk-off and become so blinded by their fear, outrage and self-righteous-self-interested-not-at-all-inclusive-or-even-acknowledging-of-any-other-lifestyles-viewpoints-or-interests-but-their-own (oddly exactly the things they site when saying why they loathe the right…!) senses of entitlement they fail to see the absolute hypocrisy in their approaches to their protests. And the approaches both the anti-island-airport crowd (full disclosure: I’m a private pilot too) and the Kensington Market protesters are taking are, to me, exactly identical in that very way — all selfish emotional outburst and almost no defenseable rationales or logic. So, yep, I finally hit my limit and could stay silent no longer and spoke out in opposition, which is why you haven’t seen me here previously. That enough explanation to earn me your trust and respect and agreement that I’ve got a legitimate right to be here? ;-)

          • PlantinMoretus

            I wouldn’t expect a paid internet shill to admit to being a paid internet shill. But your diversionary tactics (I never questioned your “right to be here”) are especially pungent.

          • K@

            Uh huh. Your right. Got me. Busted. Wow. You’re good! Thanks. And have a great weekend.

          • nevilleross

            Again, here’s some info about Wal-Mart’s practices:

            http://www.hel-mart.com/links.php

          • OgtheDim

            Meh……..I’m not against small business.

            Yet, I’ve never understood that desire to listen to what Sam Walton said and apply it to small business.

            Wal-Mart hasn’t been a small business since the mid 60′s. His growth strategies are no longer applicable to considering how the operation works now.

            Its not interested in a free market where the consumer decides.

          • vampchick21

            Oh, a quick Google will give you those. :) Seriously. And not just from raging anti-capitalist sources either.

          • OgtheDim

            Oh please.

            Now your just trolling.

          • K@

            And you’re just stalling. If you’re gonna make statements in a discussion, aren’t you prepared to support them? I thought we were having an intelligent, respectful dialogue here. It wasn’t an unfair ask… :-)

          • OgtheDim

            This is the internet. Broad statements happen.

            But responding within a discussion about Wal-mart with “details please” when it comes to Wal-mart’s behaviour is a troll. That’s like asking for proof through details about Guy Lafleur’s hockey ability when told he was a good player.

          • OgtheDim

            And before I get asked, I get why Wal-mart exists and use it.

            I just don’t think whether it should be allowed to be in that part of the city is dependent upon its existence as a company, like you seem to be K@.

            And I know how it operates and its hardly a bastion of free enterprise anymore.

            (otherwise it wouldn’t be as restrictive in its labour practices, and I’m not talking about union busting)

          • Brock

            This person bases their opinion on speculation only. Wal-mart is successful mainly because it found a void in the market capitalized on it and grew with it. organic growth in any company is the method to excel. Many companies would love to emulate what Wal-Mart has done, very few can.

          • OgtheDim

            Uh…no. That’s a pretty poor understanding of what history is.

            Wal-mart came in at a certain time when certain things were very cheap to amass (especially capital) and used various predatory practices very successfully

            It not possible to recreate that success because the 60=90′s won’t happen again.

          • magarets

            Oh jeez, this must be Econ 101 class.
            A free marketplace isn’t just about the buyers, it’s also about the sellers. With Walmart, you have 1 big seller, with access to exceptional volume discounts, who can easily displace all the independents. One seller v. dozens. A handful of squeezed-by-the-nuts suppliers v. hundreds who can negotiate on an equal footing. Which scenario offers more free choice, again?
            Walmart isn’t just another retailer. It’s the biggest, by far. It has the power to dominate whole industries, whole economies, whole ecosystems, even. THAT was never envisioned by your Smiths and Ricardos et al.

          • K@

            Econ 101 would also tell you that those squeezed-by-the-nuts suppliers do so voluntarily. Sure, they may be starving because their country sucks, or their local economy tanked and any income is better than no income. But they’re business people. THAT’s how it works! And they’re NOT doing it because Walmart’s buyers — and/or their incomparably huge customer base — are threatening to kill Granny with a Bowie knife if they don’t play. So, yes, Walmart is massive. They did — and do — a lot of really uncomfortable things to be massive. And if/when that slides over the line into illegal, hopefully the right forces address/punish/correct that as it occurs. But in the meantime, they’re just a massive LEGAL company that’s everywhere. If you don’t like that, don’t support them with your purchases. But if you prevent them from setting up shop in order to do their legal business for no other reason than you don’t like them, you’re setting up a most dangerous precedent for your community. And that’s at the heart of my argument here. This is about principals, not about maintaining the charm of a charming little neighbourhood. And that really, really IS something that really should be the focus for us all, here, no? :-)

          • magarets

            Actually, no, those suppliers are not doing so voluntarily. (Just FYI, I happened to have read quite a bit about Walmart, so this is not idle speculation on my part.) Suppliers START with what seems to be pretty good deal with Walmart, but over time Walmart pressures suppliers to drop their prices lower and lower and lower. Walmart’s large orders often make them the supplier’s only client, so they are vulnerable to whatever pressure Walmart puts on them. This has actually driven some suppliers out of business. Others have walked away, because the cost-cutting was damaging their brand. None of that adds up to a free-marketplace situation.
            Anyway, why shouldn’t a community fight to keep itself charming if it wants to? Speaking of principles (not “principals”), isn’t community self-determination as democratic as it gets?

          • K@

            1) Key: “others have walked away” Exactly how it’s supposed to work.

            2) A community SHOULD fight to stay charming if it wants to. But, then make that the crux of your argument instead of creating a big bad boogie man that has absolutely no impact on you immediate neighbourhood other than the fact that it may provide more competition than you’d like to some of your stores. This proposed Walmart store is not IN the market, remember, but actually some distance away on Bathurst. In in fact, If any store on that block advertised itself as being IN Kensington Market, the stores and residents actually in the market would go nuts.

            2) And being smug about a typo? Really?
            But thanks for pointing it out. Will edit right now… :-)

          • magarets

            I notice you skipped right over the part about suppliers failing as a result of their relationship with Walmart. How does that fit into the free market paradigm?
            While you’re at it, explain why a free market should trump all other considerations.

          • K@

            Where did I say the free market should trump all other considerations? I’m simply saying that the Kensington protestors aren’t INCLUDING a free and full marketplace as a consideration in THEIR positioning! Legal competition? All well and good — within the cloister. But when outside competition they don’t like appears…. How can they rationalize that and still feel so self-righteous in their outrage? If Walmart was doing the same….whooo boy!

          • vampchick21

            But you still haven’t mentioned the suppliers failing due to their relationship with Walmart.

          • K@

            It happens. In fact, I encountered exactly the same things a couple of time with my own business: Landed a HUGE (dream!) client, only to find their demands requiring way more resources than my margins could support. So I dropped them as clients! AND knew better what kind of clients to work with in future.

            If I hadn’t — if I held on too long and failed — then I simply shouldn’t be in business. Or, at least, not that particular kind of business.

            Yes, Walmart squeezes their suppliers, no if’s, and’s, or but’s. But, again, it’s entirely up to their suppliers to react to that in their own best interests. It’s certainly not Walmart’s fault.

            So…it may not be an answer you like, but now I HAVE answered it. Cool? :-)

          • magarets

            But what happens when there are only a couple other clients to turn to because the market is dominated by a few large buyers? And your competition is other suppliers who are also refugees from Walmart? The supplier is then in more or less the same position, while the buyers very nearly have a monopoly, i.e. NOT A FREE MARKET.
            Which brings us to the value and wisdom in having small independent suppliers and buyers.

          • magarets

            Why assume that the community hasn’t already considered the free-market aspects and decided that it was secondary to their other concerns? That is their right.

          • K@

            I am “assuming” nothing, here, but rather basing my entire counter-arguments on everything the Kensington protestors themselves are saying — in community meetings, online, and in the press. And not once have I heard a peep beyond, “Our shops can’t compete against Walmart” — with the implied “…and we all know Walmart is just plain bad, so…” Not a single other point — logical or otherwise — has been offered.

            And if they HAD considered the free market, what rationale could they credibly present to prevent another legal business from simply setting up shop in a neighbourhood that’s not actually part of theirs, but rather simply close by? (No matter how uncomfortably.) The answer is: they couldn’t.

            Self-righteousness isn’t the same as being right. I believe there’s way too much of the former going on with the Kensington folk, here, and none of the latter.

            That said, I DO appreciate their fear. Change IS scary. And progress can lead to the end of some things. However, fear of change alone simply isn’t enough to justify preventing legal business from doing business if they aren’t doing any real harm to the surrounding community — the people or the environment. That’s all.

          • vampchick21

            Or maybe, just maybe, a Walmart in that area isn’t really necessary BECAUSE THERE’S ONE AT DUFFERIN MALL. Trust me, a quick transit ride away for those down there who MUST get to a Walmart.

          • HotDang

            It’s a pretty short walk from Bathurst over to Dufferin. It’s hardly a distance worth plonking down a TTC fare for. College St. is beautiful the whole way too. It’s a really lovely walk through little Italy. Just don’t go on a weekend evening.

          • vampchick21

            This is true. It’s a bit longer to walk it than to hop the bus to the subway and across, but you can do either.

          • magarets

            Hang on, you say you assume nothing, but then say there is an “implied” Walmart-is-bad element in the opponents’ argument. How do you know it is implied? Not just your assumption?
            And if the opponents think the local stores can’t compete with Walmart, that means they HAVE considered the free-market aspects. But they are not obliged to do so. It’s their community, so their argument CAN begin and end with “we like it the way it is”.
            NO retailer has an automatic right ot enter any community it chooses. It’s not a law of nature. It’s not a human right. It’s just something they would like to do to maximize their profits.
            You say “fear of change isn’t enough to justify preventing legal business”. That’s just an opinion. And why assume fear is the catalyst? The Kensington community isn’t necessarily afraid.
            I hope this doesn’t blow your mind or anything, but lots of people believe economic considerations are secondary (at best) to others. Whole human societies have functioned well without anything we would recognize as an economy. We DON’T have to organize our communities around free markets, or any kind of market for that matter. We have lots of choices, and clearly the Kensington community does not want this particular choice. So be it.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            …NOT by limiting what is available to all to buy, based on their self-interest-driven determination of what they and/or their community needs. Big difference.”

            You mean like democracy? And zoning laws? And all that other stuff not accounted for in your market-only paradigm? You’re in for a shock.

      • OgtheDim

        Have we heard actually from Wal-mart that they want in here, or is it just Rio-Can saying Wal-mart has shown interest?

        There’s a difference.

        • vampchick21

          Not sure really. Judging by the quote from Walmart about their not attending the meeting, they may have expressed interest or been sent a convincing proposal, but they clearly aren’t 100%.

      • vampchick21

        So cover each and every urban centre with Walmarts and Targets and other big box stores because FREE MARKETPLACE! Seriously, that doesn’t answer my question. How many do we REALLY need when we have a few within quick reach via transit as it is?

    • em_robin

      The one in Gerrard Square took over the space Zellers used to occupy. It’s actually pretty small by modern Walmart standards.

      • vampchick21

        That’s what I thought. It’s been about 2 years since I was over that way, and I knew there was a Zellers, and I knew that Walmart was taking over some of the old Zellers, Target others and the remaining who knows. They’ll probably renovate and add on in the future.

      • HotDang

        That’s too far for most people to walk though. I mean, as long as you’re not out for your Sunday Constitutional. Even so, you wouldn’t be shopping at Wall mart if you were.

        • tyrannosaurus_rek

          The one at Dufferin Mall is roughly a 30 minute walk from Kensington.

          • HotDang

            Yes it’s a short stroll. Perhaps a little far to carry home heftier items but definitely walkable, even for groceries.

    • XXX

      I don’t know you but I’d be willing to bet that Wal-Mart has put a hell of a lot more thought than you into the “just how many Wal-Marts do we need” question given that they have at least a few million dollars worth of skin in the game and Wal-Mart seems to be of the opinion that we could use another Wal-Mart. And please stop screeching about Dufferin, sure it isn’t that far but when you are carrying 100 lbs of groceries and have a couple of tired and cranky kids 1km seems like 1,000…

      • vampchick21
      • HotDang

        Holy hell! 100 pounds of groceries is a lot! Would that even fit in the trunk of a car (without squishing the grapes, obviously)?

      • tyrannosaurus_rek

        What’s Good For Wal-Mart Is Good For The Nation!

    • Brock

      You are more the dollar store type anyhow. Investment and free enterprise are good for both the city and the area.

  • vampchick21

    Ok, so this whole issue around this proposed development puts an interesting question into my head. Pretend you are the developer. What would you do with that area? (This isn’t being snarky, I’m honestly curious. There’s a great deal of potential there. Lets see if we can come up with something better than Walmart or green glass condo)

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      Mid-rise 2-4 bedroom condos with some small businesses on the ground floor. I’d call the development New Woodbridge; nab the fleeing family demographic.

      • HotDang

        There’s already a shopper’s drugmart across the street in the hospital and another just round the corner on College. Maybe they could put in one of the little “urban style” Sobey’s.

    • nevilleross

      1. A school or business building (could house doctor’s or lawyer’s offices)

      2. A multiplex theater

      3. A public park

      4. Another business like Kromer Radio or Sonic Boom

      5. A mall like the one at Downsview that services small businesses

  • DC

    Since when was Bathurst and College in Kensington Market. Also, maybe if the boutiques in Kensington offered something of value rather than ironic t-shirts, beat-up records and a foul stench they wouldn’t have to be scared of a store that provides value and necessities to the community. This is a great example of creative destruction.

    • dsmithhfx

      I think what’s really disturbing and threatening about Walmart et al is the suffocating, soulless homogeneity they represent. There’s a goddam Walmart in virtually every part of the GTA already. If the people in one neighborhood say they don’t want one, that should be enough. People who are dying to shop at Walmart have plenty of options, it’s not like they are being deprived because this one place rejected one store. If you seriously want people to come into your neighborhood and shop, you had better offer them something different than what’s down the street from where they live already. Walmart ain’t it.

      • HotDang

        Yes capitalism is cool, but democracy trumps.

  • StevieC

    Effin nimby hypocrites. They’d rather jump in a car, burn gas to do to a suburban Walmart than to have one in their own neighbourhood. If the community truly doesn’t want it, the community won’t shop in it and it’ll close.

    Guess on whom I’ll be betting.

    • vampchick21

      Dude, there’s a Walmart at Dufferin Mall, quick ride on transit.

    • HotDang

      I’m sure counterexamples abound, but the Kensington stereotype doesn’t own a car.

  • Michael Provost

    What unbelievable hypocrisy! An area with a tradition of non-conformity and individualism seeks to preserve itself by taking the heavy-handed action of depriving people of the freedom of choice as to where they can shop.

    • K@

      Oh, maaaaan. Thank you! It’s been LONELY out here this afternoon! ;-)

    • vampchick21

      You live in that area and want to buy something at Walmart? Dufferin Mall isn’t that far. And that one has a Walmart Super Centre! Bonus!

      • Michael Provost

        A specious and flippant reply. Dufferin Mall is over a kilometre to the West.

        • vampchick21

          Trust me, it’s not that far when you take transit. Really not that far. Anyone in that area who ABSOLUTELY MUST shop at a Walmart, LIKE RIGHT NOW can hop the Bathurst streetcar up to the subway station, and then take the Bloor/Danforth line West 4 stops, walk south a block and SHAZAM! Big shiny Walmart! And Toys R Us! OMGPONIESSSSS!!!!! There, that was flippant. Because the fact that there IS a Walmart that is far, far closer than any suburban one, and pointing it out, is hardly a specious and flippant reply.

          • vampchick21

            (and you don’t HAVE to drive to a suburban Walmart! Fantastic!)

          • Michael Provost

            If it is, as you claim, within such easy reach, then the fact that it has existed for years and Kensington Market still exists, negates the argument that opening one at Bathurst and College will destroy Kensington Market, because those who have chosen to shop at Walmart are already doing so.

          • vampchick21

            where is the Captian Picard Facepalm jpg when you need one?

          • Michael Provost

            Where are the kindergarten learning puppets when you need them?

          • HotDang

            Did you even look in a kindergarten classroom before asking that question? Because it seems like a really obvious place to check.

          • HotDang
          • vampchick21

            Thanks!

          • HotDang

            Any time! I’m always ready.

          • vampchick21

            Seriously dude, I’m not claiming, I’m pointing out a FACT that it’s easy to reach the Walmart at the Dufferin Mall. Check a map, check transit. Easy as pie.

          • HotDang

            Easy as Wanda’s Pie in the Sky pie!

          • vampchick21

            mmmmm……pie…….

          • HotDang

            I never said it would destroy Kensington, bro! I just said it wasn’t too far to walk. Kensington would not be affected by a wall mart. It would continue to become more and more boutiquey and less run down. Kensington is slowly going to melt away like Queen West did and as Yorkville did before it. It won’t be brought down by the adjacent wall mart.

            A young guy like you wouldn’t remember this, but not long ago there was no blue banana or Wanda’s Pie in the Sky or fancy restaurants in Kensington.

          • Michael Provost

            So the goal then is not the selfish self-interest of the merchants to deny freedom of choice, it’s a far nobler goal of preserving run-down ramshackle businesses as a type of historical monument. I see.

          • HotDang

            I don’t care what the goal is. Let them build a wall mart; I don’t care. I don’t have a rooster in this fight whatsoever. I just don’t think a wall mart will destroy the market.

            Bu if the locals on average want to stop the zoning of a wall mart then they are free to do so.

          • HotDang

            It would be way easier to take the college streetcar. Just FYI.

        • HotDang

          A kilometer is literally the shortest walk in the world, bro.

          • Michael Provost

            I agree, for those who wish to walk it, it’s not that far at all. Which, as I said below, since that Walmart has existed for years it negates the argument that a Walmart in close proximity to Kensington Market will kill it.

          • HotDang

            We must be sorting differently because there was literally no comments below yours when I read that.

          • OgtheDim

            No it negates the argument that a Walmart is needed.

            Walmarts do not have to exist wherever people want them to.

            When can choose to say, “Uh, no not that.”

          • Whitebox

            “Literally” doesn’t mean what you seem to think it means.

        • dsmithhfx

          OMG!

        • tyrannosaurus_rek

          A Wal-Mart In Every Garage!

          • HotDang

            And in every bus shelter.

        • OgtheDim

          Wow…somebody can’t drive, walk, take TTC a whole km?!?!

          What would you do in Scarborough? Its 300 metres to the nearest bus for many people.

          Talk about flippant.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      You’re absolutely right! They should put in a strip mine too, so people have the choice to extract minerals in their neighbourhood.

  • PK

    With all that has been discussed about the site itself and the impact on local business (a legitimate concern), I would have hoped there would be a stronger discussion about the traffic impacts. For one, Toronto Western Hospital is across the street — that should be as pressing as the impacts on Kensington Market — and that strip is choking with cars, ambulances, etc. around the clock. the hospital has also recently expanded (not sure if that project has finished.

    With the prospect of a 300-car parking garage in its underbelly (understandable because there’s no space for a suburban style parking lot), and potential street alignments with Nassau Street, are we giving enough scrutiny to what the site’s impact will have on traffic at off-peak hours?

    Also, the traffic alignment with Nassau Street and the surrounding laneways will have significant traffic impacts for Markham Street residents. I remember a prior meeting in 2011 about this matter, and Markham Street residents were livid that the new alignments, and the impending traffic issues on Bathurst, will imply more traffic in the laneways.

    I know RioCan had a traffic analyst working with them on their first (failed) proposal. What about now?

  • Mike Mike

    A few thoughts:

    1. If they stop Walmart for going in, someone else will go in and do the same (it seems Walmart and McDonalds are the devil).

    2. Walmart does not/should not compete with the many niche items available in the Kensington market. Those who shop at kensington probably already shop at a walmart for other things

    3. City planners are lying, it will increase traffic and create gridlock, especially at first and on weekends.

    4. There’s no need to tell us as a protester your the same ones that opposed the Casino, we can tell that your the same people because your still using the same arguments FFS “…a number of speakers raised questions about the potential for environmental damage and higher rates of crime…increase in traffic and gridlock…”
    5. It’s easy to point fingers and blame big corporations, but at the end of the day, they are doing exactly what the local businesses do, only better and on a grander scale, once upon a time, Walmart was a small business, and if your business grew, you would do the same as they did.
    6. If you don’t like Walmart, don’t protect like a whiny B!tch, instead vote with your wallet and don’t shop there. Buy local and support local instead of supporting China and Walmart. The problem is, the same people who protest are the ones at Walmart getting all the bargains.

    My 2 cents.

  • Cameron MacLennan

    I attended the June 6th zoning meeting and find Jess Davidson’s article to be an excellent representation of what was said. The exception to this being the very pointed challenges made to the City’s planning staff. Blame was laid squarely at the feet of Toronto’s planners and their Official Plan for mixed use development on Bathurst St – as well as several other locations in the core.

    The RioCan proposal, as we were told in the meeting, was all but accepted in an earlier incarnation. It was rejected not because it was an unsuitable development for the location but because the developer had applied for variances rather than rezoning. In other words, the Ontario Municipal Board could well have handed the community this death-blow box store last year. Why? because the Official Plan encourages this kind of over-scale commercial development.

    The question then is who will take on the planning staff and their Official Plan for mixed use development?

  • Whitebox

    Ugh I hate the way Kensingtson Market is put on a pedestal. One of the hallmarks of the market going back 100 years is adaptability and change. The market that people are nostalgic about and trying to protect doesn’t really exist anymore. Yes there are still family run fruit stands, delis and cheese shops, but those have been in decline for decade or more. The area shouldn’t be treated with kid gloves like some endangered animal.

    • Whitebox

      That being said, I do agree that a 300 car garage would add to traffic congestion in the area. Bathurst st is often stalled south of College.

  • kokocat80

    from the Torontoist.com :
    “Lynda Macdonald, a manager in the City’s planning division, told Torontoist after the event that the City will be taking public input into account. She said that while planners have been reviewing an online petition that now has more than 70,000 signatures, it’s not as meaningful to the City as discussions at community events.”
    source: http://torontoist.com/2013/06/at-a-packed-meeting-kensington-market-says-no-to-walmart/

    let Lynda Macdonald know how you feel about this, her office phone number, and others in her office, is listed on page 5 of this publicly available document:
    http://www.toronto.ca/city_directory/pdf/divisions/city_planning.pdf
    (416-392-7618)

    • K@

      What’s that old saying again? Oh yeah, “Online petition signatures are like .a…hem!-holes. Everybody’s got one. (Or as many as they have different e-mail addresses, anyway.)” How many of those 70,000 actually have a dog in this “fight”? How many actually live IN Kensington Market and/or the neighbourhoods immediately bordering it? THAT is why the city is giving more consideration to warm bodies. And that is a relief to hear. Even the “good guys” gotta play “fair”, no?

  • Jake

    If I have to walk past a Wal-Mart to go to Kensington, I’ll just stop going to Kensington. I go there to get away from the box stores and if the epitome of capitalism/consumerism is looming over the place a block away, it just won’t feel the same.