kensington market loblaws

Will new Loblaws on College kill Kensington Market?

If a viral video can win you a one-on-one with Galen Weston, perhaps a series of protests can convince him to abandon plans to open a store by Kensington Market? Anyone? No? OK.

A group of concerned Kensington Market advocates however, is a little more optimistic. "We've gone against big corporations before," says Venetia Butler, chair of the Kensington Market Action Committee. "And we've successfully demonstrated our ability to make change."

That group is hoping to change plans for a new 20,000 square foot Loblaws that is slated to open on the second floor of a new condo at College and Spadina. The worry among the anti-Loblaws crowd is that the new grocery store will drain business from the smaller independent food shops already operating in Kensington Market.

"We're not against all types of retail there," Venetia says of the condo development. "We're just saying that it's entirely impractical to put a big grocery store chain there when the area is underserviced in other ways. We'd be delighted to have a liquor store; a Staples would be fantastic."

The group already held a protest in Kensington Market this past weekend to voice its displeasure with the plans, and is planning to go against Councillor Adam Vaughan to seek to halt the Loblaws arrival.

"Kensington has had successful outcomes rallying against corporate entities, before" Venetia says, citing a battle with McDonald's back in the early 1990's and a more recent Starbucks threat. "Our primary objection is that by having a Loblaws so close by Kensington, some of the Kensington grocery dollar will be spent there."

Venetia admits that the group is still early in its efforts, but it has already launched an online petition and plans to hold an open community meeting someone soon.

Photo by sevres-babylone in the blogTO Flickr pool

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