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Unique Toronto Homes

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Toronto Real Estate

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Tag Archives: city councillor

What a difference a supermarket makes

Jennifer Bain – Toronto Star

Getting a Starbucks may signal that your neighbourhood has gentrified, but first things first: getting a supermarket tells the city your area has arrived.

For the people of Regent Park, that moment came at 8 a.m. Friday when FreshCo opened on the northeast corner of Dundas St. E. and Parliament St.

“It’s only been 50 years since we had a grocery store,” one woman said sardonically to people around her as they waited to be let in.

She turned out to be city Councillor Pam McConnell.

Also in the crowd was local resident Mary Brown. She skipped the speeches and shopped before watching the ribbon cutting with the brass from Sobeys Ontario, Toronto Community Housing, and the Regent Park Community Health Centre.

Brown picked up a 97-cent avocado (“nice and fresh”), apple juice and a few gala apples for 47 cents a pound.

The retiree recently scored an apartment in Regent Park’s new building for seniors. She has been relying on friends to bring her groceries. Now she can walk to FreshCo to get her own.

There was a lot of talk Friday about food security — access to fresh, affordable, culturally appropriate, healthy food. Here that means not having to grocery shop at convenience stores or trek to the No Frills in the next neighbourhood.

Regent Park is bounded by Gerrard, Parliament, Shuter and River streets. It’s being transformed from solely public housing, with 2,083 subsidized rental units in highrises and townhouses, to a mixed community with 3,000 condos as part of 5,783 housing units.

Phase 1 of this revitalization revolves around One Cole, a condo complex that’s already occupied and has a Royal Bank branch (the area’s first bank), Tim Hortons (another first) and FreshCo at street level.

FreshCo, the new discount banner of Sobeys, launched in May in Brampton and Mississauga. This is its 27th store, the first in Toronto, and the first that’s involved new construction.

The colour scheme is black and green apple. “Discount done right” and “Fresher. Cheaper” are the slogans of choice.

As FreshCo general manager Rob Adams puts it, “We don’t want people to have to compromise when they shop in our stores.”

He’s standing in front of two signs. The first shows a loaf of fresh sliced bread and bears the message: “Here, discount doesn’t mean day-old.” There’s a red apple on the second sign, which reads: “Here, discount doesn’t mean bottom of the barrel.”

Sure enough, fruits and vegetables get prominent space in the sun-splashed entry of the 26,000-square-foot store. Baked goods will be delivered daily. The deli offers more than 100 cheeses. There are premium options for beef, chicken and pork. Aisle 7 has sugar-free, gluten-free and organic items. If you consider these things a given, remember this is a discount chain.

Harry Ktorides, a real estate agent who works on Parliament but lives in Leslieville, comes in to buy chicken leg quarters (just 97 cents a pound), arugula, zucchini, carrots, endive, apples and pears. He loves to cook for his four daughters and shuns canned food. He’s impressed with the store and will return.

Keiko Nakamura, CEO of Toronto Community Housing, is thrilled to see fresh sugarcane because it’s well-loved in Regent Park.

She commends FreshCo for hiring 80 of its 100-plus staff from the neighbourhood — people like Brazilian meat clerk Lesbia Salazar and Somali cashier Yasmin Mohamoud.

Nakamura is glad the supermarket has taken the diverse area’s needs into account. There’s halal meat, and areas for Asian, South Asian, Middle Eastern, West Indian, European and Mexican food.

This isn’t just a supermarket to Nakamura. It’s “a signal to the world of the transition going on in Regent Park.”

During the opening ceremony, amiable store manager Dave Carroll is introduced with an anecdote about how his sales projections are double those of his bosses.

“I guess we’d better do it now,” Carroll says of sales, adding: “It’s beautiful in there. Enjoy the store.”


Contact the Jeffrey Team for more information  –  416-388-1960