Another Take on Commercial Drive Vacancies

July 10, 2017

As readers of this site will be aware, I have been exercised lately about the number of vacancies on the Drive and, more particularly, the length of time some of these vacancies continue.  At the beginning of this month, we had three stores that have been vacant for more than a year, two for more than two years, and one for more than three years. There seems to be no activity on any of these long-term empty stores.

I mentioned this issue to the local BIA and their response was that this was a “global phenomenon” and so, I suppose, out of their hands.

During Car Free Day on Sunday I chatted with the owner of a small storefront in the heart of the Drive that has been empty for nine months. He told me they haven’t had any luck finding a suitable tenant: “And we are only asking $4,500 a month — the going rate.”

There was it seems to me, no thought on what might actually be needed to attract a tenant, maintain the space, pay taxes and mortgages — just that $4,500 was “the going rate.” There was also no appreciation that $4,500 is proving to be the going rate for keeping the store empty and revenue-less.

I’m no economist but none of this makes any sense to me.

Night Music: I’d Rather Be Blind

July 10, 2017

The Barrenness of Choices

July 10, 2017

The half-block of Commercial Drive running north from Napier used to be a bright  busy space with Drive Organics, a hairdresser and a tattooist as I recall.  Today, that entire half-block has been taken over by Choices grocery and they have turned it into a desert.

Part of the true joy of Commercial Drive is the narrow storefronts, each one different from the next, and each one contributing its share of colour and life and vibrancy to the street and the neighbourhood. Choices defies all those good aspects of urban life, with a very long store, with opaque windows (so even the activity inside is hidden), and a featureless exterior. There are no eyes on the street, there is no activity, there is no fun here, it is a bleak wilderness.

And it is so easy to deal with: it is a produce store, for goodness sakes, and so perfect for street-side carts and tables filled with colourful fruits and vegetables and anything else they want to sell, You just have to look at Normans or Triple A or Donald’s to see how it is done.  It is not rocket science, but I get the feeling that Choices doesn’t really care: it is a business divorced from its community.  That may be why I never shop there.

Poem: Moving Experience

July 10, 2017


Should we trash your aunt’s portrait with nary a glance?

Take this excuse to throw it away?

Can we use the old closet as a place to deposit

The trumpet that no one can play?


There are sofas and chairs and loafers in pairs

unmatched and still to be packed;

barbecue sets smashed by unhappy pets,

and nine bottles of wine still unracked.


Several old tables with mouldering labels

sit forgotten on the back stoop;

while dozens of books lie hidden in nooks

and unwatered plants sadly droop.


Beautiful oak chests that used to serve guests

for overnight stays in the spring,

now jammed with hi-fi and cups and bonsai,

untidily tied up with string.


Boxes of china and photos of minor

children are packed in the car;

old wooden crates filled with pillows and plates

lie piled like produce bizarre.



There still are the spades, the shades and brocades,

the stove to unplug and wrap;

the children’s old cots, tights tied up in knots,

and plenty of crap to just scrap.


But we’ve lazed away weeks and now conscience tweaks

to put us in such terrible state.

Now that the day’s here, there’s too much to do, dear,

I just hope that the van will be late.