Historian of the city, politics, and society
In March Toronto’s Kensington neighbourhood was abuzz with worries about a huge Loblaw’s supermarket planned for a site near College St. and Spadina Ave. Residents organized to oppose the development, arguing that it would push the area’s small food shops out of business and change the market forever. I wrote about the anti-Loblaw’s campaign on this blog and on activehistory.ca, exploring how it fits into the area’s nearly fifty-year history of citizen engagement in planning.
Flash forward to the present. As market residents try to stay on top of the Loblaw’s issue, a new, and potentially larger threat has emerged. At a public meeting last night developers Rio-Can faced tough question from hundreds of citizens who turned out to discuss their plans to build a mini-mall–in which the main tenant would be a 12,000 square foot Walmart–on Bathurst between College and Dundas Sts. Over 70,000 have signed a petition against the development on Change.org.
Walmart has often faced opposition when moving into communities in Canada and elsewhere in the world. The company’s labour practices, opposition to unions and reputation as a killer of independent businesses have made it an unpopular neighbour. But has it ever faced a community as organized and sure of itself as Kensington Market? We’ll find out over the next few months as this issue develops. Stay tuned.