The Weston Village BIA has posted an update on the Gaeta Farms expulsion. It isn’t particularly revealing of their side of the story, but it does say they are working hard to ensure a “successful market upon our return to John Street for the 2020 season.”
While trying to maintain the integrity and professionalism of the market, as well as the confidentiality of the Gaeta family, there have been several issues which have not been resolved, and in fact have escalated in recent weeks. We feel it is in the best interest of the Market as a whole, the Weston community and the BIA to discontinue our relationship.
We ask for your patience and trust during this difficult time. We assure you we are working very hard to ensure we have a professional, successful market upon our return to John Street for the 2020 season.
I tried earlier this week to reach Frances Nunziata and the BIA for comment, but I haven’t yet heard back.
Gaeta Farms has been ejected from the Weston Farmers’ market, which is causing great concern and may have serious repercussions.
Gaeta Farms has been an anchor tenant since the market began 38 years ago. The farm posted on their website this weekend that they had been told they had breached the code of conduct and would no longer be welcome. They dispute this:
Breaching the code of conduct they say: My dad has always loved this market, this is where we started. His voice is for the market and what’s best for all farmers and the other vendors who attend, he wants this market to succeed. Is his voice too loud? The community needs to know that the board is giving the farmers a hard time with the move to the new location next year, which doesn’t give us enough space to operate safely. His voice is sticking up for us farmers.
In an email, Sabrina Gaeta, Joe’s daughter, said the issue goes back three years. “Vendors have left, customers are no longer attending and nothing is being done to promote the market or address the issue that we have less vendors year after year.”
Next year’s move to John Street has also been very contentious. Sabrina Gaeta says that vendors do not want to move to the John Street location because the space is not big enough. She also says they have not been supported by the BIA.
The Gaetas say the new John Street location will be too small for all the vendors and their wares, and cannot be used safely with the trucks and loading that needs to be done.
Losing Gaeta Farms may have serious repercussions for the market. Several people have told me that an inspector came on Saturday and found the market had too few vendors to qualify as a farmers’ market. This appears to mean it will be downgraded to a flea market.
I’ve emailed Frances Nunziata and the BIA, but I haven’t yet heard back.
Sabrina Gaeta said, in closing:
After 38 years my dad just wants to retire peacefully from the market and move on to spend time with his grandchildren. He doesn’t want me to pursue this, but the community needs to know how unfair we were treated. Out staff lost their jobs on Saturday, income they rely on. What hurt us the most: they took away the opportunity to say goodbye to the community, our customers who have become friends. We deserve the right to say goodbye.
A photo from 1982 at the Weston Farmers Market. Joe Gaeta has attended every Sat since 1978. Friday on Oct 4th at 2pm the Weston Bia kicked him out without no verbal or written warning. The longest standing farmer at the market The community deserves answers. @FrancesNunziatapic.twitter.com/bRsBEKXTly
Tomorrow will be the first-ever Weston Buskerfest, and it promises to be a blast.
The fun starts at 2 pm and goes until 6 or so. A rotating set of performers will appear between 1765 Weston Rd and the TD Bank. They include some excellent talents: Kate Mior the wind-up ‘doll’, ET the Mime, a magician, a hula-hoop entertainer, and Weston’s own Scott Jackson.
Here at WestonWeb, we often think we know better than anyone else. After all it’s easy to second guess from the sidelines. Sometimes though an idea seems so right for an area that it should be given a closer look.
Pop-up shops are an idea that originated in Australia and the idea is that empty stores are cleaned up by volunteers and then opened by businesses for a short period of time. Landlords charge little or no rent but benefit because successful pop-up businesses sometimes end up as paying tenants. The whole street benefits because more spill over sales traffic is generated. Even Kanye West uses them!
There is quite a wealth of experience out there in the successful implementation of pop-up shops and it is likely an endeavour best undertaken by Mount Dennis BIA or Weston’s BIA. We wrote about the idea in 2012 but sadly, nothing happened.
In the future, Weston Village could be a showcase of how to do retail but currently it’s a showcase of how not to do it. In the GTA, Bloor West Village, Roncesvalles and Streetsville come to mind as old established neighbourhoods whose stores have successfully made the transition into the post-big box and shopping mall era. ‘What’s holding Weston back?’, you may ask. Well, there are many things – one is the stubborn refusal of the citizens of Weston to shop locally and another is the filth and litter that seems to pervade the place (perhaps the two are linked).
Part of the problem is that the intersection of Weston Road and Lawrence Avenue West is a transit hub. Many people are coming and going and as a result lots of litter is generated. Let’s not dwell too much on the people who do the littering. It’s a fact of life in a big city. What is obvious though is a tolerance for litter that exists on the part of shopkeepers and also the people responsible for removing it. What’s also obvious is that the same litter stays in place for days if not weeks on end. This attracts yet more litter.
While it is Winter and litter is sometimes difficult to remove at this time of year with salt and snow everywhere, thats an excuse you won’t hear in the places mentioned above. It’s certainly no excuse in the current snow-free spell.
If retail establishments find that the City isn’t taking care of the litter problems, they should complain. Property taxes go towards street cleaning and transit hubs need more of it. It also might be an idea for businesses to spend five minutes daily to clean up around their properties. It might be another idea for our councillor and the Weston Village Business Improvement Area to tackle this problem. This is something that can be implemented quickly with beneficial results.
As citizens, we too can play a part. 311 is the Toronto City Council number to call about litter (and many other) issues. Calls from several people about the same problem may mean quicker action.
Post Script. Not having seen any action on the clean-up, I phoned 311 on Thursday 22nd January to report the mess and was assured that there was nothing to do as the area had been cleaned up. On walking through the intersection today, it was clear that nothing had been done.
Thursday January 23: problem reported to 311 and this time I have a reference number. Apparently it takes about 3 business days.