If you're poor and you live along Queen West, helplessly watching an affordable neighbourhood transform into a posh hot spot for hipsters, yuppies and dinks (in that order) can make you want to lash out. The recent appearance of a Starbucks on the corner of Dovercourt and Queen prompted one irate passerby to spray-paint the words "Drake, you ho, this is all your fault" on the wall.
The Drake Hotel tends to be an easy target for those angered by area's increasing gentrification. Miléna Malovic, a spokesperson for the Drake, can't hide her amusement. "I'm looking forward to the Starbucks as our neighbour," she says.
Starbucks can be very good if you like premium coffee in non-recyclable cups. It's bad if you can barely pay your rent. The arrival of Starbucks has usually led to skyrocketing rents in more than a few once-affordable neighbourhoods across the continent.
Local councillor Adam Giambrone says the city doesn't have the power to decide where business can set up shop. For those concerned about corporatization, he advises that "one of the best things people can do is to support local independent stores, cafés and restaurants." He also mentions that this isn't the only Starbucks opening on Dovercourt. Another has just put up its sign at College.
But ultimately there's a deeper issue here. Just south, developers are wrangling over the Queen West Triangle, a 6.5-hectare swath of old industrial buildings waiting to be approved for commercial and condo development. The Active 18 Association has formed to steer the development. The fledgling group wants to see green space and affordable housing included in any plans to redevelop the area. Starbucks has painted over the offending graffiti. An e-mail to NOW from HQ eagerly pushes the company's good works in other communities.