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Parkdale strip hit with Ossington-style restaurant ban (but Grand Electric’s expansion is safe)

(Image: Marc Falardeau)

Last week, city councillor Gord Perks quietly pushed through a moratorium (like the one on Ossington in 2009) on new restaurants and bars opening on the Parkdale strip (Queen Street West between Dufferin and Roncesvalles, to be exact)—but fear not Grand Electric fans, the second-floor expansion we told you about recently will survive the ban. When we spoke to him, Perks expressed his concerns about the growing imbalance of businesses in “Partydale,” with too many new restaurants and bars (like Wrongbar, Keriwa, Chantecler, The Yukon and more) and not nearly enough amenities like hardware and corner stores. Existing operations, like Grand Electric, can still apply to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for additional or expanded liquor licenses as per usual, but no new “restaurant, take-out restaurant, patio, bake-shop, place of amusement, place of assembly or club” will be permitted. The moratorium is in effect for a year, while city staff work on a study of how best to manage the changes happening in Parkdale. In any case, Toronto’s taco-hungry hordes should have somewhere to tromp upstairs and warm up this winter.

  • David Edwards

    So unbelievably lame. Holdover of our puritan beginnings, this is the sort of thing that prevents us from ever becoming interesting.

  • Gord Perks is dumb

    Gord Perks has no idea how to build a community. More hardware stores? Really? How often are you needing to go the hardware store that you need it to be placed a few blocks from your house. No thanks to his effort, but thanks to entrepreneurs and eager locals wanting a more developed neighborhood (showing it with the $ they spend) Parkdale has a chance to be a an even better neighborhood. It just needs to get rid of the likes of Gord Perks, who believe change is bad and feels it is his right to interfere in progress and the development of a community.

  • Phil

    Another example of how politicians try to control the natural market. They have no bloody clue. FREE MONEY!

  • ChiefBrody

    Some of the best restaurants in the country are on this strip are getting noticed, and some pretty decent acclaim. Why would you want to slow down this kind of momentum? Imagine if Parkdale was allowed to flourish, with all of the amazing establishments we already have in this city we could truly become a foodie destination on a broader scale and people would actually travel to our city to experience our hospitality. Wouldn’t that be incredible?!

    I love Parkdale. I have lived in the neighbourhood for a number of years, seen the evolution of the neighbourhood and am excited by what is going on here. The opportunity for something great and the enthusiasm to showcase all of the diverse and interesting elements of Parkdale should be encouraged and guided. Not capped and managed.

    I have a feeling this will be Mr. Perks last term representing this ward. Parkdale has changed a lot since the last election and he hasn’t been able to change with it.

  • Peter

    This kind of policy isn’t “unbelievably lame”, unless of course you’re 19-years-old, but a neighbourhood needs things like green grocers, pharmacies, bakeries, hardware stores, coffee shops and restaurants. People live in this neighbourhood, they don’t just “go out” there.

  • Gord Perks is dumb

    I think you have seen an increase in coffee shops, bakeries and the like. Hardware stores is a stretch. A neighborhood hardware store cant compete with a Canadian Tire or Home Depot and individuals are willing to travel for the infrequent nature of those needs. Perhaps it is lacking in grocery stores; however, I think if there is a market demand for it, then it will come. Mr. Perk trying to control it will only devalue the property that neighborhood and its residence. Hope this clown Mr. Perk is gone.

  • ParkdAlien

    We have a hardware store in that area but it may close down. I am happy to stay in my hood and not to have to go to bay and dundas and crappy tire.

    the problem seems to be the likes of douchy BARS like the yukon and soon ‘go’ will open at the roncesvalles end of west west queen west. you can thank the boys from local kitchen for this, they were worried about the competition biting into their business and then it was the element from the dive bars that offended them. does the pinball cafe really need a liquor permit?

    the neighborhood fought back when (ahem) restaurant parts and labour wanted to open a 200 seat patio atop their underused eating area and nightclub basement.

    the area has not so much a dining destination as a nightclub destination. the strip between dufferin and roncesvalles has at least 12 full fledged dive bars, plus the cadillac, parkdale drink, rhino, stones palace, not my dog, mezzrows, the sister, wrongbar as well as the places i mentioned above. they are also home to many, many restaurants from those above to all the tibetan places, roti, breakfast joints, burgers, greasy spoons, easy, enoteca maialino, keriwa, cowbell, the new sushi place at brock… we have had 2-yes 2 bakeries of sort (they specialize) open up-yummy stuff (basically a cupcakery with some cookies and pies and glory hole doughnuts (which is all about the doughnut).

    walking through the hoards of smokers (weed and tobacco) and drunk douches at night is not fun-especially when parts and labour has the sidewalk stanchioned off so the locals must walk around on the street.

    i am all for gentrification and i may have been apart of that gentrification 7 years ago when i moved there but it is a neighborhood first and foremost and it needs to service those of us that call it home.

    for the most part i want and do support the businesses in my neighborhood before those in further away places.

    the decision to slow the progress doesn’t need to be a bad thing, some care in how the neighborhood develops can be a good thing too. the area used to be famous for and rich with antique stores and now they number only 3 or 4.

  • GoldieLock’N’Load

    Opinions. Every one has them. You can express them, learn more and get involved by attending local resident’s associations, like I do. There is one for Parkdale and another specifically for Macdonell to Roncesvalles and more!

    I have lived in Parkdale since 2005. Lived in floors of houses on Macdonell and even had an apartment on … gasp … Jameson! I founded a local roller skating association and am now a business owner at Queen and Roncy.

    It has changed around here – a lot. In all sorts of great ways. Change doesn’t have to come at warp speed, sometimes slow and steady does win the race.

    There are more than just 24 hour party people in this neighbourhood and Perks is trying to (thankfully) represent all of us. If you’d like to get some back story on this “issue” read the article from The Grid from almost a year ago called “The Resistance Movement”

    I <3 Parkdale!!

  • Ellie

    As someone who lives and works in Parkdale, I think this is a good, responsible move. I think Gord Perks should be commended for taking action on behalf of the interests of less vocal communities (marginalized groups, Parkdale residents and service users), at the risk of being less popular with more outspoken communities (restaurant and bar owners). Brave move!

  • Kitten72

    As a long-time Parkdale resident who has invested in the neighborhood, I am disappointed with this moratorium, for many reasons. It begins with Gord Perks very quietly moving it through with the support of a small local group who were put together since they all agreed with him.
    Second, because as a resident, who is not interested in the club scene, i feel that there is/could be a better way to invite more “appropriate” restaurants/cafes to open than simply not allowing anymore. As residents, we all want to more shops to open, but they won’t open unless they feel that the area will support them, and that starts with it being a safe destination. Many of the new establishments target a clientele that while they may be outside smoking, does not harass the pedestrians, they are not stumbling drunk and fighting, puking or vandalising the neighborhood. In part, because they are not over-served. I would prefer Gord Perks to focus his efforts and cleaning up/getting rid of the existing establishments that have long history of serving under-age people, over-serving clients, as well as supporting many other potentially criminal acts.
    As per a previous comment, I do hope that this is Mr Perks last term in Parkdale and that our new councillor will focus efforts on supporting and fostering the positive elements of our mixed community.

  • West of Dufferin

    “existing establishments that have long history of serving under-age people, over-serving clients, as well as supporting many other potentially criminal acts.” that is a pretty damning statement without facts Kitten….I assume you are speaking of places like Sun Fa and Grace Place for a couple of examples? While not as many or blatant drug deals may go down at Mezzrow’s or Cadillac Lounge-they do-I’ve seen them. I have also seen people being poured out of the more ‘respectable’ bars. Puking happens all over Parkdale and the new spots have just as many people throwing up as the old spots. Check the alleys Kitten. More bars and people mean more people peeing against my fence at 3am-I get to wash it down with regularity to stop the stench in the summer. Just because YOU may not see the tree pee doesn’t mean the tree doesn’t make a sound when it falls in the forest….

    Since the Yukon and Parts and Labor have opened the sidewalks are not passable and although they may not challenge me (I am a big imposing sort) I have seen them hassle the locals that are not as well off as others either financially or mentally and those people are just as worthy of our respect as anyone else and don’t need to be denegrated by others.

    I see another bar is set to open close to goldie’s rollerskate shop-I worry about that corner now too and I am sure that Michael at the Local Kitchen will keep a close eye on it.

    What am I trying to say? Parkdale deserves diversity, it needs to serve all of its community, older/younger, hipster/not hip at all, crazy/sane, poor/rich. It does damage to a neighborhood if it only skews in one direction-yes the free market will ultimately decide-but at what cost and will it be too late to salvage what good may be left. The rents and property values have long started their sharp ascent but we also need to keep some choice, character and affordability within this area as well. Change and progress are very good but better when more people are brought with it and worse when it is imposed. Just because you can open a bar on the strip doesn’t mean the strip needs it.

  • Ross

    It’s OK…the next area to get hit is Bloor and Lansdowne!

  • West of Dufferin

    to Ross’s point

    take the time, watch the video’s…read the report….

  • robert noram

    Yup. The folks who live in Parkdale understand that we have a neighbourhood here and we live here. Living in a place day in and day out is very different reality than using a place to party.

    I had to remind a guy of that fact after he finished pissing on my house during Nuit Blanche.

    Having lived in Parkdale for the last 15 years and seeing the changes, I can tell you one thing that hasn’t changed.

    People who don’t live in Parkdale continue to cause the most damage to Parkdale.

    The drug dealers who used to sell here, didn’t live here. The slum lords who kept their buildings a mess, didn’t live here. And that guy who was pissing on my house, also didn’t live here.

    Gord Perks, while not usually very noticeable in the neighbourhood, has done good by keeping Parkdale’s Queen Street West, dry.

    I lived at the corner of Lansdowne and Queen (LQ) when it wasn’t dry. Two bars faced each other, Jimmy’s and the Green Dolphin. During that time, LQ was owned by drug dealers and their prey, drug addicts.

    When the two bars closed down, LQ transformed into what is it is today, a busy corner of diverse and eclectic people of all stripes who can use LQ right into the night without worrying about what used to lurk here back then.

    Parkdale has history. And because we have history, we can consider where we’re going because we know where we’ve come from.

  • South Park

    I don’t agree with draconian measures in principle, but Parkdale has seen a boom in nightspots. These change affect the streetscape at night. It becomes a different place with different people – not necessarily locals. Parkdale did not used to be a destination area so the changes to the lives of residents are significant: less parking, noise, busy sidewalks, smokers congregating, brawls, etc…. I can understand why Gord Perks would want to call a time out to consider the issue.

    Liquor and high end food will always have higher margins than low priced ethnic fare,which is the Parkdale staple. Landlords will be tempted to fill empty or struggling stores with new higher paying tenants. If the situation is left as is, the diversity that makes the community special will disappear. If it takes a year to make a plan -so be it. Toronto definitely needs more planning, just look at the waterfront.

  • anon

    I have lived just north of Parkdale for 6 years. A year ban on specifically bars may be a good thing as it will allow other types of businesses a chance to bid on renting available spaces. Something like a health food store, or even smaller take out restaurants that offer sandwiches, etc would be good to add. Even something like an Express Sobeys, like the one at Bloor and Spadina, would be good. Actually Bloor from Spadina to Bathurst is a decent model for diversity, as it has a good cross section of food, bars, groceries, book stores, etc.
    Local businesses that sell clothes, books, home items (not necessarily a hardware store, but it would be useful), etc would certainly be good, and even maybe expanding the art gallery scene which is concentrated east of Dufferin.
    Not that Toronto doesn’t have enough, but even a Shoppers Drug Mart would be useful for residents – I can’t recall if there is one in that strip. How about an LCBO or Wine Rack store? Anyhow, many options. In a year, the ban will be over and there will be opportunity to add in more bars, restaurants as needed. Keep in mind there has been an expansion of bars and venues on Dundas street around Dufferin as well.
    Gord Perks is taking into account community issues like parking access, and accomodating huge groups of people who flood into the area every weekend. With many new condo developments being proposed in and around the area, those new condo owners now have a say as to what they would like there as well.
    Lots of things to consider.

  • just one guy’s opinion

    we have a shoppers, we have both a liquor store and beer store on brock the beer store is a bit north of queen however. we also have both at liberty village. a grocery store might be nice although there is one on gladstone and another on king and jameson-but i prefer the neighborhood markets to the big box stores dropping in little ones-they tend to become expensive especially the mini-sobeys.

    if you go on the kanji sushi webpage-it actually says drop by for dinner OR ‘after work drinks’-so they are moving into the bar business despite their promises to mr. perks.

  • Siri

    Many restaurants employ lots of people with limited skill sets, these jobs are very important. Everyone needs a chance to make a living, these jobs will be missed in this neighbourhood (I know I live there).

    On the other hand it’s great for developers. Property prices dip slightly because the possible use for any given building has now been limited to a clinic/store etc…

  • Paul

    The logis behind the ban is flawed. Banning bars will not magically bring in hardware stores and high-quality grocery stores. There were a few hardware stores that closed down over the past few years (Parts and Labour’s location was one). Unless Gord Perks can shut down all the Home Depots, the little hardware stores aren’t coming back anywhere.

    What is left when restaurants and bars can’t move in are empty storefronts… and when things get really bleak, the condos scoop up whole blocks, just look at Bloor west of Lansdowne.

  • Paul

    “I see another bar is set to open close to goldie’s rollerskate shop-I worry about that corner now too”

    Yeah, a board game cafe opened there. Where people play Jenga and checkers. Oooooh, scary! The poor, poor neighbourhood. If only Perks had been able to block that board game cafe. Sigh.