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Petition circulates to save Parkdale restaurant from eviction

Last Updated Oct 17, 2017 at 6:53 pm EDT

An online petition is circulating to try and save a family run restaurant after rising rental rates in Parkdale could force its closure.

“Recently, a multinational chain restaurant offered a large amount to lease Tibet Kitchen’s current location,” reads the petition, started by James Aufricht, a regular customer of the restaurant. “As a result, the rent for this location more than doubled, forcing the owner of Tibet Kitchen to find another location.”

The restaurant’s owner confirmed to CityNews that his rent had increased back in September, and he was looking for a new spot, but he declined an interview Tuesday.

“It’s a policy issue, certainly,” says Aufricht, who would like to see rent control introduced for commercial properties in order to protect small businesses.

“We want to ensure neighbourhoods we’re in are able to in support local businesses, and right now it doesn’t appear they are.”

“Canadian law doesn’t allow municipalities to get in between one business and what they charge another business,” explains area councillor Gord Perks.

“When your lease is over, they can charge you whatever they want, whatever the traffic will bear,” he says, pointing out that small businesses and large chains are treated the same.

CityNews spoke with the building’s landlord, Phil Capone, who says he has received numerous offers over the years from large corporations for his three properties in Parkdale, but has always tried to work with the local business to keep them running. He says while Tibet Kitchen’s rent has increased, he is charging less than what he would be getting from a big chain.

Aufricht’s petition is offering a solution, but a city bylaw could keep Tibet Kitchen from finding a new home in the neighbourhood. “The owner wants to move literally down the block, but he’s unable to because of the unintended effects of a bylaw that’s really limiting him,” says Aufricht.

Current zoning rules on Queen street and other main city roads dictate how many restaurants can occupy one area. That’s why Aufricht’s petition is asking the city to bend the rules around the property at 1558 Queen St. — an unoccupied storefront that isn’t licensed for food distribution.

“The property that that kitchen owner wants to look at isn’t where a new restaurant can open,” says Perks. “We’ve advised him [the restaurant owner] of that and we’ve given him some ideas of some other places where he can move, but at present we don’t have a clear answer.”