Bloor West Villager
Kathy Tudor and her family have seen a lot of changes over the four-plus decades they have lived in Bloor West Village.
Tudor says she loves the village for its friendly, “neighbourly vibe.” Yet, that “certain feel” that came from the once predominantly European community with a retail strip comprised of several “mom and pop” shops has been lost, she says.
Due to the recent tough economic times, several stores along Bloor Street West have remained empty. Fortunately, said Tudor, the former Laura Secord at Beresford Avenue and Bloor Street West did not suffer the same fate.
“We watched the conversion to Hakim Optical with great interest. It was fairly low key until we saw the monstrous sign go up. Not only does it look too big for the building, it looks downright dangerous for passersby,” said Tudor. “It is totally out of character for the neighbourhood.”
A new city-wide sign bylaw, which went into effect in April of 2010, contains regulations that protect residential and natural areas that are near illuminated signs by restricting the maximum level of a sign, prohibiting signs from spilling light onto adjacent properties and requiring illuminated signs to be shut off between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Parkdale-High Park Councillor Sarah Doucette weighed in on the issue, which she said she has been keeping her eye on.
“Personally, I don’t like illuminated signs. They’re not bird-friendly or resident-friendly,” said Doucette. “This one does stand out.”
Doucette said she will be following the issue “every step of the way.”
“This is important,” she said.
However, Hakim Optical spokesperson, John Worden, says the sign is consistent with the size of all others within the eye wear chain.
Hakim Optical has submitted a permit application for the signs on the property, Ted Van Vliet manager of Toronto’s sign bylaw unit told The Villager Tuesday, Aug. 7.
For an area that’s been deemed commercial, such as Bloor West Village, city regulations dictate that a sign’s size must be limited to 20 per cent of the first storey wall area or 10 per cent of the second storey wall area, explained Van Vliet.
“The sign could not project above the roof of the building or project beyond the walls that it’s placed on,” he said.
Van Vliet wasn’t able to comment specifically on the current size of Hakim Optical’s sign because the application process has not been finalized.
Despite concern for the sign, Alex Ling, the former chair of the Bloor West Village Business Improvement Area (BIA) and owner of Ling’s Importers, says businesses like Hakim Optical are a welcome addition to the village. He recognizes there are fewer and fewer small, independent stores.
He attributes this in part to the expensive rental prices in the area.
“Some small businesses and entrepreneurs can’t afford it,” he said. “The bigger chains can afford it. If you look at it from a consumer’s point of view, these newer stores provide variety. Hakim Optical – what a display, there’s such variety. It’s great overall. It gives local residents great variety and choice.”