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Provincial review of the Ontario Food Terminal

Jonny5

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This item leaves a lot more questions than answers.

When we look forward to the next 25 years, what do we need to do to make sure we are still up-to-date and that the food terminal serves all the people?
This is never discussed any further, and that is frustrating as I suspect almost everyone outside the industry, like myself, has no idea what it means to be 'up-to-date' or how to 'serve all the people' to begin with, never mind what the future should or could hold.

There's 5,000 customers that come down to the terminal, we will lose a good majority of them if they move the terminal or close it down,
Again, there's no follow-up here about why moving the terminal means they 'lose customers.' An average person has no context here. Do they mean they lose customers if it's moved somewhere else in Toronto, or in the GTA, or in Ontario? If it moved to (selecting a spot at random) somewhere on the 427 north of the airport, is that a doomsday scenario? There's no explanation in this piece except a follow-up that says ""Any change to the food terminal would put us out of business," which, what? ANY change?

This is a real junk-news story that tells me nothing that I need to actually know.
 

lenaitch

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I agree. The role of the Food Terminal is unknown to most people. Large retail food stores and restaurants mostly have fixed contracts with supplies, but for the smaller shops and restaurants, the terminal provides a direct link with sellers (farmers/producers) in a sector that is either perishable or at least has a limited freshness window. As well, the growing/raising methods are of increasing importance to many. Many shops place a strong importance on quality, and they get to assess this first hand at the terminal.

It is a variation of food and fish markets found in many large cities, although I don't know whether there is government involvement in the other or, for that matter, what the province's costs are. Farmers/producers are, by and large, outside of the GTA. I'm not sure what other business model between largely independent sellers and buyers would work unless they went to some kind or co-op arrangement.

The same also applies to flowers which, if I recall, is still operated out of the terminal. To florists, freshness is even more important.

Many may recall the stockyards at St. Clair and Keele which essentially did the same thing at a time when there were more independent butchers (or butcher departments in supermarkets had more autonomy to buy locally) and when most of the public didn't think meat grew on styofoam under plastic.

I don't know if the government simply wants out or they are eying a valuable chuck-o-real estate, or both. If it moved to a more suburban location it might not be the end of the world (I think it's current location was driven by proximity to rail which is no longer an issue). If the government bails, the industry would probably challenged coming up with the money for land anywhere.

Given the large presence of independents in the industry, of course we can assume any decision of the government is 'for the people'.:rolleyes:
 

DSC

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If you want to learn about the Ontario Food Terminal a good place to start might be their website. http://www.oftb.com/

The About Us section states:

About Us

The Ontario Food Terminal is Canada’s largest wholesale Fruit and Produce Terminal. It ranks amongst the top four Terminal Markets in Canada and the United States by volume of produce distributed. At 1,053,612 tons or 2.1 Billion Pounds (as of March 31, 2018) of produce distributed annually, this volume equates to an average of 5.6 million pounds of fruits, produce and horticultural products distributed daily from this 40 acre site. It is generally agreed that this number could easily be doubled or tripled as deliveries are made from outside facilities that are generated due to the existence of the Terminal. Warehouse and Farmers’ Market tenants make direct deliveries from outside facilities to buyers’ premises as a result of their presence on the Terminal itself.
The Ontario Food Terminal is owned and operated by the Ontario Food Terminal Board (the Board) which is an operational enterprise operating under the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. No public monies are used in the operation of this unique facility as the operation is entirely self-funded from fees charged to the users of the facility.
The Board operates the facility twenty four seven with a total of 40 staff. However, when tenants, buyers and suppliers are added to the number of persons employed either directly or indirectly as a result of the existence of this facility, an employment number in the range of 100,000 people is easily achieved. This number is a relatively conservative number, when one only considers over 5,000 Ontario businesses are buyers at the facility.
The general public who are the ultimate consumers of the fresh fruits, vegetables or horticultural products have a high likelihood of selecting fruits, vegetables or horticultural products that originated from the Ontario Food Terminal.
Currently our distribution range is from Fort Albany in the far north of Ontario to Windsor in the south and as far west as Thunder Bay while as far east as Newfoundland. It is not unusual for users of the facility to also send these products into the United States.
 

ShonTron

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I agree. The role of the Food Terminal is unknown to most people. Large retail food stores and restaurants mostly have fixed contracts with supplies, but for the smaller shops and restaurants, the terminal provides a direct link with sellers (farmers/producers) in a sector that is either perishable or at least has a limited freshness window. As well, the growing/raising methods are of increasing importance to many. Many shops place a strong importance on quality, and they get to assess this first hand at the terminal.

It is a variation of food and fish markets found in many large cities, although I don't know whether there is government involvement in the other or, for that matter, what the province's costs are. Farmers/producers are, by and large, outside of the GTA. I'm not sure what other business model between largely independent sellers and buyers would work unless they went to some kind or co-op arrangement.

The same also applies to flowers which, if I recall, is still operated out of the terminal. To florists, freshness is even more important.

Many may recall the stockyards at St. Clair and Keele which essentially did the same thing at a time when there were more independent butchers (or butcher departments in supermarkets had more autonomy to buy locally) and when most of the public didn't think meat grew on styofoam under plastic.

I don't know if the government simply wants out or they are eying a valuable chuck-o-real estate, or both. If it moved to a more suburban location it might not be the end of the world (I think it's current location was driven by proximity to rail which is no longer an issue). If the government bails, the industry would probably challenged coming up with the money for land anywhere.

Given the large presence of independents in the industry, of course we can assume any decision of the government is 'for the people'.:rolleyes:
The Ontario Stockyards (also a provincial agency, like the Food Terminal) were moved to Highway 89 near Cookstown. It's closer to Ontario's beef and pork country (basically the northwestern parts of Southern Ontario, like Grey-Bruce, parts of Wellington, Simcoe, and Dufferin Counties, etc.) but a lot smaller than the old stockyards, as the grocery and meat supply chains have consolidated.
 

jje1000

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I would say that there's potential to make the property more productive than it is currently- I think there's definitely a huge opportunity to make use of the air rights above the Terminal, to rebuild the terminal with new equipment, to make the site more attractive, as well as to take advantage of the existing systems/infrastructure to introduce a more public component to the property (a more accessible market?).

That being said, I would be opposed to moving the Terminal elsewhere as I think it occupies an important and accessible location for Toronto restaurateurs/small grocers, and presents itself as a reminder of Toronto's real day-to-day logistical connection to its hinterlands and international produce sources. Traditional public markets (especially St. Lawrence) are increasingly doing a poor job of this as they've been gradually turning towards tourism and more expensive items.

I wonder if the Terminal could be rebuilt in gradual phases, with a terminal component occupying the ground levels, commercial lining some of the edges, and residential above?
 
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lenaitch

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I'm sure there might be room for improvement, but I'm not sure it would be all that suitable for residential given that trucks start coming and going in the wee hours of the night (and please keep trucks and private cars separate). A public market might work if vendors saw value in the additional space and staffing. As it stands now, it is a wholesale market and you have to be a registered business to be a buyer.
 
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