No, Really, Shop Local!

I wonder if Jane Jacobs contemplated the present stretch of Eglinton Avenue when she wrote, “Nobody enjoys sitting on a stoop or looking out a window at an empty street… The trust of a city street is formed over time from many, many little public sidewalk contacts.” I’m a bit embarrassed to say that I rarely venture up to Eglinton anymore, although I tried to keep my ritual going.  For years, I would walk the strip for a coffee or take my kids for ice cream on a warm summer evening.  In this ‘hood, I remember one of my first Middle Eastern meals back in the 90s and even take-out from China House (for the aesthetics alone).  Now, I walk along the street with mixed feelings and have anxiety when I need to access Allen Road.  

     For the last eight years and counting, Eglinton has been an absolute mess of relentless construction. Even if I wanted to visit the shops, where do you cross the street?  I could write about the many empty storefronts and detours around deep excavation pits, or unsuccessfully hopping across large mud puddles and rivers of construction muck. I could complain about the non-existent pedestrian access around moving-target-construction staging areas that are close to impossible to manoeuvre (good luck if you need accessibility or are pushing a stroller) — does Metrolinx want to keep us out?  I could rage in solidarity with some of the shared construction frustrations (although to a much lesser degree) around building elevators at Dupont Station – really, three + years to install elevators??  One of the shops near me mused, while staring into a deep hole in front of his store, how there is only one company in the whole country that can install elevators.  And yes, I had no choice but to stand by, powerless, doors locked, as the city turned off my hydro and water with less than a days notice during my busiest times — couldn’t they do it at night?  

     It can take up to two months to change one’s regular habits and to make new ones. This includes your daily coffee fix, visiting your favourite restaurant, how you commute to work or even where you walk your dog.  How many times will you be stuck in the same traffic before you move to an alternate direction? How many days will it take, after settling into your new routines, before forever avoiding your original path altogether?   

     While everything is on the line for small business, they are also vital to a healthy community.  They employ your neighbours, your friends, your family and small business is an essential part of the neighbourhood fabric.  There is a responsibility to come out and reconnect to your street – especially during construction.  Not coming back to Eglinton means you would miss Jerusalem’s consistently perfect fried eggplant dish soaked with lemon, olive oil, garlic, and parsley (easily top of my list), Thobors sesame seed encrusted baguette and baking classes, 3SK’s “life-changing sandwich,” Aish Tanoor’s hummus and St.Urbain’s Montreal style bagels, hot from a wood-fired smoking oven (and the uncovered Space Balls billboard!). Being vegan, my son was really psyched to discover Celebrity Vegetarian, just west of the Allen – the most unique stop by far! Even my dog was fed by The Local Kibblery close to Bathurst.  My senses stimulated and stomach full, we made our way home, navigating through the slush while ripping and sharing pieces of baguette and trying not to wipe out on the ice.   

The Local Kibblery
896 Eglinton Ave W

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