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Posted: 2017-04-20 16:27:41

People in Toronto are complaining that many music venues are closing, their sites gone to condos; I have been meaning to write about how important bars and restaurants are being lost, gone to drugstores, and took these photos for the story. But Colin Horgan of the Guardian beat me to it. It is not just Toronto, but a problem in a lot of successful cities.

On Yonge Street in Toronto, the once seedy strip everyone came down the road from all over Canada for music, sex and drugs, the Friars Tavern where The Band played, became a Hard Rock Cafe and now is becoming a boring red store selling a different kind of drugs, across the street from our new Nordstroms. Horgan writes:

Normally, a Hard Rock Cafe – itself a chain – giving way to a pharmacy might not prompt dismay. But the move has sparked a debate in Toronto about what exactly its streets are for. “If this particular drug store brand goes in, and does the exact same thing they do in every other case – they put one door at each end and they wrap the whole thing in an advertisement – that’s not adding to the dynamic of the neighbourhood,” says Toronto city councillor Mike Layton. “That’s in fact taking a sledgehammer right to the heart of it.”

Brunswick TavernLloyd Alter/ The Brunny is now a Rexall/CC BY 2.0

Corporatization is happening everywhere; even Toronto’s famous Brunswick Tavern, where they rented the beer instead of selling it, has gone to drug store. I assumed that it is because the boomers are now more interested in buying Depends instead of drafts, but according to Horgan, there is a bigger story, the invasion of the chain stores on main streets and high streets around the world. And they are not just trying to stop this in Toronto:

Most famously, in the mid-2000s the city of San Francisco adopted policies to limit chain stores, known as “formula retail”. Broadly speaking, the city defines formula retail as stores with 11 or more locations anywhere in the world, a uniform aesthetic, and a few other criteria.

boycott tescoJim Killock on Flickr
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