Comment 36712

By Tammany (anonymous) | Posted December 31, 2009 at 12:01:00

"As a young middle class guy living in the middle of Beasley, I respectfully disagree. Besides the food I grow or obtain from farm shares, I buy groceries at Maker's Market (Ferguson and King, or James and Colbourne), the Farmer's Market (York and MacNab), Food Basics (Mary and Barton), and the independent South Asian, Mexican, and Italian grocery stores on James North. I buy hardware from Arruda's (Hughson and Barton), gardening supplies from Tregunno Seeds (Catherine and Wilson), stationery from Mixed Media (James and Cannon) and Grand and Toy (Jackson Square), and kitchen supplies from Chris's Store Fixtures (James and Murray). There's a Beer Store at Barton and Elgin and an LCBO in Jackson Square."

That's quite a list. I never sought to deny that it's possible to live in the downtown. Your list makes it clear that it is. My point was that the amenities most middle class people expect just aren't there. I love the independent "ethnic" grocery stores on James North, but I feel confident in saying that a lot middle class people would never think to shop in them. Ditto with the Market - many people wouldn't think of a farmers' market as a place to buy routine groceries. We need to cater to the most basic expectations of the people we want in the core, not compel them to make alternative choices which they might find unusual or inconvenient.

Everyone knows it: what we need is a full service, quality mid-range grocery store like a Metro, Fortinos or Sobeys right in the downtown (there used to be one!). Even a lower-end grocery store like a food basics or a no frills would suffice (although I think a mid-range store would do wonders for downtown perception and is to be preferred). A name-brand, large format department store would be great as well (I know that department stores are generally seen as an outdated retail format, but they really do work in high-density environments; most of the world's great cities have at least one or two thriving department stores in the core).

I don't mean to be excessively negative about the downtown. But I take exception to any comment which seems to suggest a complacent attitude about downtown's amenities. I firmly believe that the downtown (and I don't mean the lower city as a whole, just the core), as it is, is largely unsuited to the needs and expectations of middle class families. I think people who care need to harp on this point incessantly until things begin to turn around.

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