Frances Nunziata and the Etobicoke-York Community council don’t want a bar to open on Jane St. Last month, Nunziata and City Council also opposed the liquor application of Femi’s Place, a restaurant on Weston Rd.
In her letter to council, Nunziata says residents “have reported several concerns to my office regarding the ongoing activity in and around the building at 1784 Jane Street in which Sin Fronteras is to operate.” Jennifer Cicchelli, Nunziata’s Executive Assistant, said in an email that the “problems reported include allegations of drug activity, late night noise, and late-night construction.”
Neither Nunziata nor Cicchelli say, however, that the people behind the application are causing the problems.
According to Cicchelli:
“Legal” bars are part of the problem. In Weston in particular, specifically, places open up as restaurants and then operate as bars and/or nightclubs. Some of the problems encountered include alcohol being served after hours, alcohol being served to minors and serving people who are already noticeably intoxicated. While the AGCO issues licences, they rarely revoke them. The owners can either take a suspension or go to a hearing at which point their licence is reviewed. It is not uncommon for owners to just take a suspension to avoid going to a hearing. We have some “restaurants” in our ward that have violated the conditions of their Liquor Licence over and over again, yet they have not had their liquor licence revoked, despite pleas from the Councillor and area residents to the AGCO.
Once identified, it is easier to close down “illegal” bars or booze cans than it is to deal with problem establishments that have a liquor licence.
Currently, there is a notice of arrears posted on the door of the building. The previous tenants, a beauty supply company, owe more than $10,000.
As WestonWeb has mentioned in previous articles, Frances Nunziata is our vocal and dynamic councillor. She has been involved politically for decades and overall her contribution has been outstanding. Years of opposition made her an outspoken maverick ready to fight for her constituents.
One of the problems apparent in the Weston community is the illegal use of premises to hold large parties to which admission is charged. Parties go long into the night and attract some dangerous individuals. These unlicensed premises are a threat to safety and because their whereabouts are unknown, often in basements and side-alleys, they are hard to detect and shut down. When establishments are licensed, police officers and inspectors can enforce operating hours, room capacities and reasonable levels of noise.
Femi’s Place, an existing restaurant at 1812 Weston Road has applied for a licence to serve alcohol. For some reason, Ms. Nunziata recently steered through this emergency council decision to block the application. In her motion, Ms Nunziata claims that ‘Residents of Weston Village, within which this establishment is located, are already troubled by the number of licenced establishments in the area which frequently violate the conditions of their liquor licences but still remain in operation.’
As a result of complaints she sent inspectors to visit the restaurant, but they found that the restaurant was serving alcohol legally and without problems (the restaurant had applied for and obtained special permits). There was no evidence of wrongdoing other than hearsay.
There are few licensed establishments in the immediate area south of Lawrence. There is one nearby at 1828 Weston, Michelle’s Place, whose owner claims that they have never had problems.
In Ms. Nunziata’s zeal to clean up Weston, she may have forgotten that a nuanced approach is best rather than ‘Kitty bar the door’. Successful businesses and neighbourhoods have to start somewhere. Legal businesses pay taxes, enrich the local community and are subject to inspection and control.
The statement by Ms Nunziata that there are Weston establishments frequently in violation of their licenses implies that we are being failed by the inspection and enforcement process. Perhaps this is where she should focus rather than victimizing fledgling businesses.
Double Double Pizza and Chicken on Jane St got yellow-carded on Oct 1 for being generally gross. The franchise was dinged for failing to provide a hand washing sink, having a food handler without headgear, and for failing to properly clean rooms and equipment.
City inspectors gave St Bess Bakery & Take-Out a conditional pass this week. The bakery, which had never received a warning before, was given a yellow card for failing to remove solid waste and for failing to sanitize garbage cans.
Weston doesn’t have a decent coffee shop—and no, Tim’s does not count. A decent coffee shop has more than one coffee, brewed strong. A decent coffee shop has pastries and muffins made fresh, not tired old donuts rolled frozen down the 401.
Now, however, the old clock-repair and computer shop on John St is being renovated. The inside has been entirely gutted, and a sign on the window says that the Bela Cafe will be opening soon.
The owners have chosen a great location. Their shop is just down the shop from the GO station, where tired commuters gather every day in the snow. With a little luck, the café will serve excellent coffee and treats, not cups merely good enough to keep commuters coming.