Community fridge shut down in Toronto, raising ire at city's double standard

Elianna Lev
·4 min read
The Community Fridge in Parkdale, seen here on October 11, 2020, was removed by bylaw officers this week. (Instagram/cf__to)
The Community Fridge in Parkdale, seen here on October 11, 2020, was removed by bylaw officers this week. (Instagram/cf__to)

People on social media are questioning how officials in Toronto are dealing with businesses that defy lockdown guidelines, after part of a volunteer-run program offering free food to the community was shut down.

On Monday, one of the five outdoor fridges run by Community Fridge Toronto was ordered to be removed. The program offers anyone fresh and packaged free food. Items are stored in a refrigerator located outside a business that volunteers the space. In a post on Instagram, Black Diamond Vintage, which hosted the fridge outside their store, said the city told their landlord to remove it within 24 hours, or else face a fine. It referred to a bylaw meant for abandoned appliances, which could pose a public safety risk for children who might get trapped inside. The bylaw in question targets older models of refrigerators, which don’t have a magnet that allows them to be opened from inside.

“The bylaw states that the fridge is abandoned (which it is not) and that it poses a risk of people getting stuck inside of the fridge (which is only possible with much older fridges),” the post reads.

Community Fridge Toronto responded with their own post, saying they did what they could to plead their case with the city. They noted that the fridge wasn’t empty and offered to replace it with a smaller appliance. However, the city refused to allow them to continue to operate.

The post was flooded with comments expressing disappointment.

“This is awful. They don’t even offer an alternative solution; they’re just like ‘get rid of it or else.’ People are in need more than ever and the city doesn’t seem to be doing much to help with that,” one read.

The program is currently looking for another business located on private property to volunteer their space.

On social media, people pointed out an apparent hypocrisy for how the community program was dealt with in comparison to a barbecue restaurant in Etobicoke that is under investigation for offering in-store dining, despite the present lockdown restrictions.

While there was some confusion earlier in the week over whether the Adamson Barbecue was allowed to keep operating, the city issued a release stating that the restaurant was closed. The owner will face several fines, including operating without a license, though he vows to continue operating this week.

Earlier this week, city officials also sent a warning to a Toronto carpenter who was building small shelters for unhoused people. Khaleel Seivwrigh raised over $150,000 for the project, before he was ordered by the city to stop due to lack of permits.