Thank you for taking the time to let me know that you support the Tibet Kitchen. Like you, I desperately want this business, which adds so much to our neighbourhood, to succeed.
When the owner of Tibet Kitchen contacted my office about a month ago, my staff and I immediately got to work. As you might have heard, he was faced with a rent increase he simply couldn’t afford and was looking to find a new location for his business. We provided advice about the kinds of locations he could and couldn’t move to, put him in touch with the correct public servants, and offered to help him work through all the necessary paper-work.
Since then, I have spoken with the owner and a number of his customers and have been asked to go further than that. Some have asked that the City waive the rules governing where restaurants are allowed so Tibet Kitchen can move to a specific location where it is not allowed. This is something I can not legally do, and frankly should not do.
Let me explain. Municipalities regulate the locations of businesses. Local governments create zoning bylaws which govern what use can go where and the concentration of certain uses within an area. Each property is “zoned” for specific uses. The Queen St. West By-law includes a special feature which limits the concentration of restaurants on Queen St W, between Dufferin and Roncesvalles to allow for other uses. You can read more about it here:
Part of the reason for this is to protect local business. As you may recall a few years ago a number of west end main streets were suddenly inundated with restaurants which largely functioned as late night clubs and drinking spots. Special zoning rules were implemented on streets like Ossington, College and Queen St W after community consultation, and were approved by Toronto City Council on advice from the City’s Planning department. If Queen St W became an entertainment district or a restaurant row we would lose business that support the neighbourhood: hardware stores, laundromats, bank branches, etc.
Your petition asks me to give one specific business an exemption from the rules. This troubles me. I don’t believe individual politicians should be able to change the rules so that a specific business succeeds or fails. The opportunities for abuse, even corruption, are too large to ignore. We as a government design bylaws to achieve larger social goals: supporting local shopping; balancing the needs of business and residents; matching transportation capacity to land use. We don’t and must not have the power to make a specific restaurant succeed while others fail.
Where does this leave the Tibet Kitchen? As I’ve told the owner, although the City will not approve restaurant use at the particular site he is interested in there are other sites along Queen St W and neighbouring streets that may be an option.
I hope this helps clarify things. I also hope that you support local businesses in our neighbourhood in the best way you can: eat there, shop there and pass the word to your friends and family about the great spots in Parkdale.
Councillor Gord Perks
Ward 14, Parkdale High-Park
100 Queen Street West, Suite A14
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2