Importance of “coffee-shop” like spaces in our community

Growing up in the Jane-Finch community I rarely saw communal spaces to work or hang out in. Usually any sort of meet-up or school work I wanted to do outside my home had to be done at the library or at the local Tim Hortons. Neither of these spaces felt like they served the purpose that many coffeeshops in other Toronto neighbourhoods served their community.

Recently I stumbled across a place at the Jane-Finch Plaza – a bubble tea shop called Noon Moment that offers an extensive tea menu and free Wi-Fi. The space is beautiful and welcoming – offering board games, a loyalty program, and a free drink on your birthday.

When I asked the owner, Don, what inspired him to open Noon Moment, he simply said he wanted to give his community this kind of space. Originally from Vietnam, he noticed the growing Vietnamese community in the area. Don then decided to open a small shop that would offer a popular product but would also serve as a space where people in the community could study, work, and socialize.

And it seems to be doing just that! When I walked into Noon Moment I noticed many people with their laptops working away and hanging out while enjoying delicious bubble tea.

A local entrepreneur, Jenn Myky, explains that this sort of space is valuable to our community. Jenn is an art teacher who offers paint-night classes for groups and is one of the founders of Femme Theory, a beauty and self-care business she started with other young women from the area. She recommends the Iced lemon Green Tea with Aloe Vera.

“It gives me the ability to take my business wherever I need. Noon Moment not only provides a variety of drinks but it’s also a calm and comfortable space for work. I find that seating is a big factor when it comes to finding the right place but also lighting and plugs for a long work session,” shares Jenn.

“I would definitely rather support a local business over a Starbucks or Tim Hortons,” Jenn explains and emphasises the need for spaces like this because community members enjoy what this space offers.

It must be noted the neighbouring Tim Hortons at the Jane-Finch Mall is not very welcoming. There are no plugs to charge phones or laptops, does not have the comfortable seating that some other franchises have, and generally the number of seats are limited. In many ways it discourages us to stay, hang out, and do work in its space for any long period of time with friends.

City life and student life can be stressful and isolating. It is easy to become disconnected from our surroundings and spaces like these serve as hubs for our communities to engage and connect.

However, I am not advocating for gentrification – but our community should have more public spaces for us to hang out in.

Our community is wonderful but far too often the Jane-Finch community is misrepresented and this deters investment from even our own community members. We need locally owned businesses like Noon Moment  – spaces that are for us and by us.  Our community should be given the opportunity to open and create spaces for ourselves without the fear of being displaced.

Noon Moment is located at 1993 Finch Ave W they are opened every day from 10 AM – 10 PM.

 

On the 36: the split Finch West bus

Residents of University Heights and Bathurst Manor are intimately familiar with the 36 Finch West bus and have taken notice of the recent changes made to the route. On weekdays between 6am and 10pm, the 36A carries eastbound passengers to Finch West station where they must transfer to another 36 bus to continue towards Finch Station. Likewise, those travelling west from Finch Station on the 36 must transfer to the 36A at Finch West Station.

The odd quirk has drawn frustration from residents who view the transfer as an awkward and unnecessary part of their daily commute. Residents, like Britney, who travel eastward towards Finch Station for work in University Heights do not understand why the change was made.

Britney explained, “Finch West is a busy area with lots of offices and industry. I think the change doesn’t reflect how people actually use the [Finch West] bus” pointing out that many of her co-workers travel to work from areas served by the 36A which no longer continues towards Finch Station. Her coworkers must transfer at Finch West Station adding additional time and stress to their commutes.

After contacting the TTC’s customer service line, the split of the Finch West route was attributed to its high passenger traffic. In 2017, the 36 Finch West was the TTC’s third busiest bus route and its fifth busiest surface route overall averaging 43 100 weekday trips. As explained, the split is the TTC’s effort to optimize traffic flow by increasing the service frequency of buses along certain parts of the route.

However, this has still left residents wondering why it has only been the 36 and not the TTC’s busier surface routes that has undergone such a change. The two bus routes that have greater usage, the 32 Eglinton West and 52 Lawrence West, offer commuters routes without a midway transfer during the same weekday hours while travelling equivalent or greater distances.

Resident Troy Budhu speculated, “you can’t help but think this wouldn’t happen outside of Finch West and the Jane-Finch community