Saving and skimping in Toronto this summer

Using Ka Wei, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Caffiends to your advantage

Saving and skimping in Toronto this summer

Toronto is a city of opportunity, and with opportunity comes temptation. A 15-minute walk anywhere south of Bloor will lead you past fine dining and food trucks, cafes and bars, book stores and record shops — all of which will tax your willpower, strain your attention, and ultimately drain your wallet.

It’s a battle I know all too well; after popping off in the early days of September like some sort of pudgy, pretentious Drake, my lifestyle caught up with me, and I was forced to reform. I sought out the advice of my smarter, thriftier friends, and scraped by for the next five months on eggs, sriracha, cheap coffee, and handouts.  

That episode let me in on one of Toronto’s best-kept secrets: with some luck and resourcefulness, the city can be liveable — you just have to know the right spots.

For food, fifth-year Clara Rutherford recommends Chinatown’s big-time produce vendors: Ka Wei, Hua Sheng, and Lucky Moose. Stocking up on cheap, nutritious grub like kale, beans, and rice will keep you full throughout the day, while dashing into a hole-in-the-wall bakery, like Mashion Bakery on Baldwin and Spadina, is great for loading up on banana bread or pork buns, says Rutherford.

However, flying around these crazy, mosh-pit produce markets can be stressful. The employees blur past you, prefer cash, and have no time to chit-chat. But when you can find a kilogram of quick oats for $3, it’s a trip worth taking.  

On your way back from Hua Sheng, scoop these up and throw ‘em in the freezer: meats, bread, produce, sriracha, whatever. Each are savoury, cheap, and will let you save up some money for your nights out.  

Another food tip: after 3:00 pm, the CityMarkets across town sell ‘enjoy tonight’ products; food that they’re forced to sell because it will ‘expire tomorrow.’

If you’re planning on hitting the town, fourth-year architecture student David Suskin recommends pre-gaming with some cheap alcohol. Pabst Blue Ribbon is always in vogue, while some of the grimier Ontarian wines are sold for around $7. After loosening up, Suskin and I recommend storming into Wide Open, Sneaky Dee’s, the Madison Pub, or Ein-Stein — of meme page fame. All boast cheap beer, and the latter has free cover on Friday and Saturday.

If you’re feeling some cheap coffee after your night out, avoid hitting the more bougie Toronto areas, like Yorkville, Queen West, and King Street. Instead, slip into Caffiends. This tiny, student-run cafe, based out of a shoe closet in Old Vic, sells coffee at a dollar per mug, and offers up one of the best atmospheres in Toronto.

There are other great, inexpensive dives on campus, too. Recent graduate Arielle Mantes recommends Trinity’s The Buttery or Victoria’s Ned’s, but with a few caveats. The drinks there can be pricey, Mantes says, so make sure to bring a reusable mug and tea bag with you to skip the line and cut costs.

If you’re really down and out —think early April, trapped at Robarts, snow on the ground — you can always go to Starbucks. If you’re a Starbucks Gold member, you get a free drink on your birthday. The good news is all it takes to become a member is an email and a few spare minutes to sign up, so make sure to pop by on your birthday for that free drink.

Everyone has their own strategies on how to get by in Toronto. Maybe you sniff out free food on campus: college societies and Frosh week are especially known for this. Perhaps you budget, prep meals, and fast through breakfast. Safe to say, there are hundreds of things you can do, and even more waiting to be discovered.

Starbucks at College and Beverley closes doors to make way for new condo

Local residents concerned about pollution, noise, influx of students to area

Starbucks at College and Beverley closes doors to make way for new condo

The Starbucks on the southeast corner of College Street and Beverly Street has closed its doors permanently. In January 2020, a 29-storey condo tower will replace the five-storey, mixed-use building that housed the coffee shop.

The condo will consist of 26 floors sitting atop a three- to five-storey space designated for retail and office. It will provide 309 residential units at the southern end of UTSG.

SOFIA LUDWIG/THE VARSITY

The current proposal for the project was sent to the Ontario Municipal Board in March 2016, and the tower will be built by Page and Steele of IBI the Group. The developer is Parallax Investment Corporation.

“[The District Manager] confirmed that everyone was offered a new position,” said Tim Gallant, Senior Manager of External Communications at Starbucks Canada. “So nobody was left unemployed as a result of this closure.”

Gallant added that Starbucks has no plans to open a store in the new tower or in the same vicinity as the old one. Students expressed their disappointment about the store’s closure.

“I’m going to miss it because it’s in a perfect location,” said third-year student Alex Pavel. “I didn’t know it was closing.”

Pavel was not the only person surprised; many students did not know about the closure, although some flyers were handed out by employees.

Thalia Charney, a neighbourhood resident who lives right across from the building, is mainly concerned about the noise generated by the construction. “It could take a long time to build this, so it’ll make the street noisy,” she said. She also believes pollution may be a potential problem.

“It doesn’t fit the neighbourhood,” said Gale Fraser, another resident of the area. She could not see any benefits to the project and is concerned about noise and garbage disposal issues. She also fears that the tower would block sunlight from its surrounding buildings.

Fraser is worried about traffic as well. “There’s supposed to be limited vehicles,” she said. “But it’s never what they say it’s going to be.”

She added that the new building would increase the number of students in the neighbourhood.

“It’s a transient population,” said Fraser. “We want people who are going to stay and be a part of the community.” She believes that, because students live in the neighbourhood only during their time at U of T, there is no real investment in the community.

She raised concerns about vandalism as well, citing a park that was “destroyed a year and a half ago.”

According to the City of Toronto staff report, the project is proposing 58 underground parking spots located underground and an entrance via College. This would not be sufficient to meet the demand created by a project of this size.

The report also specified that no information had been provided regarding the additional loading space required for solid waste management vehicles.