Development That Doesn’t Deliver

PizzaQuest: Ward 6 Etobicoke – Lakeshore, FBI Pizza

Ward 6

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Occupying the southwest corner of The 6ix is Ward 6, home to Humber College, Humber Bay Park, and hungry patrons that swear by FBI Pizza. The lake makes for a picturesque view, and developers can’t resist jumping on the opportunity to take advantage of changing trends. Historically, the area by the lake was a busy industrial hub, and previous home to the Mr. Christie cookie factory. Today, students pack themselves into the frustratingly unreliable 501 streetcar, one of few transit options in what is a geographically large ward.

Councillor: Mark Grimes

Mark Grimes is a sports enthusiast, serving his fourth term as Councillor for Ward 6. He is a character, known for his kitschy bow ties, and disdain for speaking extensions; he is a firm believer that the 5 minutes given to Councillors to speak on a particular item should be diligently respected. Grimes believes this so much, that he prides himself in having never voted in favour of a colleague’s request for an extension.
Many would suggest that it was due to this strong alliance with Rob Ford, that Grimes found himself in a close race last election. His primary challenge came from local community health centre executive director, Russ Ford, whom only coincidentally shares a last name and first initial with the former Mayor. In terms of politics, Russ Ford presented a progressive, more left-leaning alternative, and despite a crowded field of 12 candidates, trailed Grimes by only about 2500 votes (or 10 percentage points).
While many in the area know him as a hockey fan and family guy (he has 5 children), he has also been spotted in superhero mode, as he once helped save the life of a women in crisis. However, even superheros have their flaws; Grimes has faced no shortage of controversy at City Hall. Whether it’s a murky trip to Las Vegas or appearing in condo development ads, his integrity has been brought into question more than once. Grimes also voted against extending watchdog Toronto City Ombudsman Fiona Crean’s term in 2014.

Pizza: FBI Pizza

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FBI was hands down the most recommended place to us in Etobicoke-Lakeshore. Coincidentally, Terra used to live down the street from this joint and was fairly familiar. Attesting that the pizza was indeed delicious, but with the caveat that the service was usually sub-par (there is never enough staff and too many orders), we were wary. Interestingly enough FBI has been named “The Best Delivery in Toronto” which caused us to raise an eyebrow, knowing what we know, we couldn’t resist testing their delivery.

The pizza scorecard:

What we ordered: Margherita Extra, Diavola, Capricciosa, and Nutella Pizza (because, hello?)

Why we ordered: Upon first glance at the menu, Claire was taken aback by the variety of toppings. Aside from having outstanding offerings (porchetta!?), FBI notes that their proscuitto is DOP, an official designation given to products that guarantees they are actually from Italy. Keeping with the system of white and red, and taking into account there would be a few other mouths joining us, we opted to get a bunch. This ensured we would have a well-rounded understanding of the pizza quality. We decided to keep to the “Chef’s Creations” section of the menu, as this was Councillor Grimes’ recommendation when he wrote to us on Twitter.

The score:

Service 2/5
Sauce 4/5
Topping selection 4.5/5
Freshness 3/5
Crust 4/5
Dough 4.5/5
Bang for your buck 3/5
Instagram-ability 2/5
Meets Expectations 2/4

Total: 29/44

If you’ve voted for FBI Pizza as Best Delivery please raise your hand. While it’s certainly a cut above a chain, it started with 15 minutes of trying to get through on the phone during a weeknight, and getting disconnected twice. They were clearly understaffed and very busy, and you could sense the stress from the person on the other end of the line. They were out of porchetta (ouch!), and the delivery time given was an hour. After an hour and 20 minutes (we debated how long one should wait before calling to check in on an order) we needed an update. Luckily the pizzas were still warm when they arrived.

The crust was impressive. Soft and light, thin, with a satisfying bite. Best of all, it held up right to the centre without getting soggy. The topping selection was great – but they do lose points for being out of porchetta – and the freshness was quite good. However, with expectations so high, it didn’t quite stack up. The standout by far was the Diavola, which Claire was in love with due to the level of spice.

We all agreed we wouldn’t order the Margherita again. Surprising, as the menu clearly states “fresh fior di latte” as the cheese, this was the biggest let down. It had a bizarre cheddar-like taste, which does not work with the rest of the za.

All in all, the pizza was good, but not good enough to deal with the delivery headache. Would highly suggest visiting them if you’re in the area, and save deliveries for a joint you know is reliable.

Plus, reheating was a no-go. The pizza became chewy and rubbery – would not recommend.

 

What’s up with Ward 6?

It will come as no surprise that when Terra lived in this neighbourhood she was into the nitty-gritty of on the ground city building. 

From Terra:

“Living in Ward 6 is when I started a passionate relationship with my bicycle. I spent hours on the Humber Trails with my bike; after work, on weekends; I’d bring a book and bike out to the farthest points on the lake, sit on a rock and read. It reminded me of growing up in my home town of Innisfil where I lived on Big Bay Point. So obviously when The City asked me to come on a site walk for trail improvements I jumped at the opportunity.

When I got there (on my bike obviously), we were situated by the condos and there was a group of people who seemed to be condo owners looking at the reading materials under the City of Toronto tents. I dismounted my bike and took off my helmet to overhear ‘We need to do something about these cyclists, they’re destroying the community, they kill dogs and run into children and none of them live here anyways! They don’t care who they kill, so why not shove them onto the road, who cares if they get hit by cars – it’s their choice!’.

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I was mortified, I knew there was tension around cycling but I though the rhetoric I heard was mostly hyperbole, I wasn’t expecting to hear this with my own ears especially when they could see I was a cyclist. These are the people I was about to spend 3 hours with discussing multi-use trail improvements. I debated whether to continue in such a toxic environment, but I stuck with it and it was a huge learning experience.

The anti-bike brigade did not stop while we were walking. One woman’s goal seemed to be removing cyclists entirely from the trails, while another merely wanted to make them disinterested from using them. It was also strange that within the entire 3 hours, not once did we see a cyclist behaving the way they claim all cyclists do. They questioned why I was allowed to be there, outright asked what street I lived on, and one thought that because I don’t own property that I shouldn’t be considered a community ‘stakeholder’.

The City staff, ever graceful, had my back when I pointed out it was a public park. The vibe was still very tense when – of all things to debate – a condo owner called me a liar for pointing to a bush that overgrows in the summer which impedes the line of site for cyclists. Constantly being told “Well I live here, I own property, I’m in this condo”, I couldn’t help but ask myself, who owns a neighbourhood? Who builds it? Whose voices get heard? These are questions I’ve never stopped asking myself. If the answer is that only older, affluent, white folks get to have a say in city-building we’ve got a huge problem.”

These questions are hugely important in Ward 6. As the “cranes in the sky” development thirst shows no signs of slowing down; huge infrastructure, community, and city-building initiatives will need to follow in lockstep.

As a neighbourhood traditionally considered more affordable than the downtown core, many newcomers to Canada, students, young professionals just starting out, new families, and families with lower-incomes can afford to rent in Mimico and build communities. Those voices need to be heard at the table, and they should not be be drowned out by those insisting they have more rights because they have higher incomes and the ability to own their home. We all have a part to play in building better communities.

The term “taxpayer”, as we’ve stated in previous posts, is divisive by nature. And as this story shows, can be used to feed the false notion that renters do not contribute to property tax. They do (we do!), it’s just a matter of how the bill is payed.

Good development, like good pizza, should serve many purposes, palates, and price points. In the planning process, our city needs to order enough so that everyone at the table gets a slice to call their own.

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