Community Fridges Toronto is looking for a new location to bypass an outdated bylaw
A week ago, food insecure or hungry residents of Parkdale could visit the community fridge outside Black Diamond Vintage at 1614 Queen St. W. and take whatever they need. The fridge, placed there in July, was stocked daily by locals who have groceries or pantry items to spare. It’s part of an initiative started by Community Fridges Toronto, which facilitates the installation, sanitation and upkeep of the three, previously four, fridges around downtown Toronto.
The Parkdale fridge is no longer there after Black Diamond Vintage was visited by bylaw officers on Nov. 17. According to a spokesperson from Coun. Gord Perks’s office, the officers ordered the fridge to be removed, “citing public safety and accessibility concerns, as well as the existing Abandon Appliance bylaw.”
The Abandon Appliance bylaw states that abandoned appliances are dangerous because someone could get trapped inside them. But the community fridge that was at Black Diamond was not abandoned, and rarely empty. People accessed it multiple times a day to take what they need or leave what they don’t. Perks’s spokesperson says that the bylaw officers “verified the appliance had doors on, was filled with food and was plugged in,” but the city continued to cite the bylaw, which was adopted 20 years ago.
Bylaw officers also cited “sanitation issues related to stopping the spread of COVID-19” as a reason for the fridge’s removal, according to Perks’s spokesperson.
“It’s frustrating that the city is changing their story,” says a staff member of Black Diamond Vintage, who did not wish to be named. “They did not talk to us about sanitization at all and did not say it was an issue.”
The fridge was cleaned daily, often several times a day, says the staffer, “There was a strict cleaning schedule.”
Community Fridges Toronto is now looking for a new home for its Parkdale fridge. “As a host you are responsible for power to the fridge, the CFTO community takes care of the rest,” reads a recent Instagram post from the organization. The Abandon Appliance bylaw does not apply to appliances on private property, which includes street patios or parking spots.
Three other community fridges are still running, and it is unclear whether they will be targeted by the city. They are in constant need of support, Community Fridges says, and located at 1132 College St., 555 Dundas St. E. and 782 Adelaide St. W.