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Newsstand: December 2, 2013

December already! And Monday. Bad things are supposed to come in threes, so watch out, everyone. Seriously. In the news today: Rob Ford did some things but they weren't as bad as usual, groceries are nearly impossible to find in some parts of town, making rent is also near-impossible for minimum-wage workers, and an assumed victory for the arts may be delayed.

matt newsstand gull

Is it the worst thing he’s done, or just the most recent? (It is almost certainly the latter.) Rob Ford attended the Buffalo Bills–Atlanta Falcons game in town on Sunday, and for some reason, he stole musician Matt Mays’ seat. Writers everywhere in Toronto made much of the fact that one of Mays’ best-known songs is “Cocaine Cowgirl.” And the mayor has admitted to smoking crack… cocaine. Like the song!

Ford is something of a bad-luck charm in the CFL, and his presence at the Bills-Falcons game boded just as badly for the Bills as it usually does for the Argos. The Bills lost 34-31 in overtime, which is all non-sports-fans need to know about that. For real. The rest is pointless, but if you are a sports fan, please to enjoy your sports.

Mobile grocery stores are bringing fresh, nutritious food to neighbourhoods severely underserved by conventional stores. In many areas of town where people’s incomes are lowest, fresh food at affordable prices is a pipe dream. To help combat this problem, FoodShare’s Mobile Good Food Project has begun driving to six different locations and setting up a temporary market. One Scarborough area the project serves is so badly in need that it takes 20 minutes to walk to the nearest grocery store. The group says its larger goal is ultimately to have the individual communities take over and provide themselves with fresh food.

The Grid looked at how far minimum-wage-level earnings go in 2013 Toronto. The results, unfortunately, are grim. Average rent for a bachelor apartment is $1,300 per month, which equals 126 hours of minimum-wage work. A month of (on average) four 40-hour workweeks will typically contain 160 working hours. So rent for a bachelor apartment takes up slightly more than 75 per cent of a minimum-wage worker’s monthly earnings, and things like groceries, transit, and health care are all still unaccounted for. No wonder there are groups calling for an increase in minimum wage from $10.25 to $14 per hour.

With last week’s release of budget documents came the news that a much-vaunted increase in local arts funding may be delayed. The increase, which was going to come from a hike in billboard taxes and has already been delayed twice, is intended to bring Toronto’s arts funding up to the standard Montreal set a decade ago. That standard is $25 per capita. Since setting that standard, Montreal has increased its per-capita funding to $55.


  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    Is a 20 minute walk to the grocery store really considered excessive? When I lived on Bloor West (and not in Etobicoke) I had to walk that far in any direction before encountering a No Frills, Metro, or Sobey’s. Or is this including every little market and convenience store with food as a grocery store?

    • vampchick21

      Good question. A relative of mine lives in Malvern, and to walk from their house to the gas station/convenience store/Tim Hortons combo took me a half hour, crossing two major 4 lane streets. I think some of the more suburban type neighourhoods you need to go father to shop for basic needs just due to how the areas were built up (and 20 min/half hour can be quite the trek for older people, people with small children, my stepkids). Whereas my neighbourhood I have three grocery stores within a 5 min walk from my home, Somehow seems imbalanced.

    • andrew97

      I once tried to walk home from my grocery store (20 min away) laden down with groceries and accompanied by a small child. Never again.

      • dsmithhfx


        • andrew97

          It wasn’t the groceries that threw a temper tantrum when we were halfway home.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            The wheely-cage is for children, not groceries.

        • rich1299

          They don’t work quite so well, or last so long, when you have to haul them up 4 flights of stairs. I’m sure there are more solid ones than the one I had that got bent so badly one of the rear wheels wouldn’t turn after a few weeks from banging against each stair with a full load on the way up but I’d imagine they’d be much more expensive too. If I had lived in a building with an elevator I’d have been using one of these for laundry too.

          I had some small but more expensive grocery stores and a great inexpensive green grocer (I have pet rabbits, I never shopped there for myself) within 5 minutes of where I used to live. If I had to go to No Frills which was about a 25-30 minute walk or so I made sure not to buy more than I could easy carry in hand basket, but I still always took the streetcar back home.

  • OgtheDim

    If Loblaw’s were smart, they’d do these mobile grocery stores things themselves.

    Oh wait…they rely upon people over buying because it takes so long to get to there stores.

    Scratch that idea….

  • tomwest

    I want to know if that “20-minute walk” would be significantly reduced with a bus ride. Or is this some weird black hole in the TTC’s coverage?

    • dsmithhfx

      The TTC’s got plenty of holes, especially with the service reductions in the last budget. I can usually walk from Warden & Eglinton E. (and sometimes farther) to Kennedy before a 34c happens along, and that’s at least a half-hour. So thanks for that, Karen Stintz!

  • rich1299

    You can get a bachelor easily for under $1300/month if you don’t absolutely have to live downtown or other expensive areas. Average rents can be misleading since a relatively small number of extremely expensive ones skews the average. Bachelors in Forest Hill are barely more than broom closets but at the price of a large two bedroom in the inner suburbs. A more accurate way of looking at the availability of a bachelor apt. at a certain rent would be the median rent where 50% cost more and 50% cost less.

  • Lisa S

    I have an issue with $1300 as the average price of a bachelor. That HAS to be wrong. I have lived in this city for years and had many apartments. I have never paid that much for rent, even for a 1 bedroom.

    • vampchick21

      You’ve been lucky, that much I’ll have to say. 20 years ago I was paying $650 all inclusive for a one bedroom on Jameson Ave, that very apartment is now about a thousand all told. Renting a two bedroom in the upper level of a house started at $1350 10 years ago and ended at $1450. The current 1+ condo we rent is $1600. Don’t know if bachelors really average $1300 these days, but rent is not what it was 20 years ago, that much I can tell you from personal experience.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      When was the last time you looked at rental prices? I’ve never had to pay that much either, but when I was looking for a new place this summer $1,300 would get you a basement downtown.

      • Lisa S

        I got a new place 6 months ago. A one bedroom with in-suite laundry, a dishwasher, a wood burning fireplace, a deck and a yard. Still not paying that much.

        • vampchick21

          You seriously lucked out then!