WARMINGTON: Shopkeeper’s eviction delayed but St. Lawrence Market still kicking her out

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Jenny Huang and her The Souvenir Market shop is being cancelled at St. Lawrence Market with no hero riding in to her rescue in sight.

Toronto’s unbudging bureaucrats seem laser-focused on removing this woman from the 200-sq.-ft. retail space at the market’s front door.

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam and Mayor John Tory have achieved an extension from the July 8 eviction day to July 31, but after that she’s gone after 18 years.

“I want to restate, and this is important, that the tenant mix and number of vendors in each category were the main considerations in the city opting not to renew Ms. Huang’s lease,” said Toronto’s chief spokesperson Brad Ross. “The market is currently in negotiations with a florist for this space.”

Too many souvenir shops is not Huang’s fault since hers was established before the others who emulated her.

So why Huang?

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She describes a campaign to make things unpalatable to stay that allegedly includes intimidating verbiage, spying and smears. But Ross, subbing for the actual person who made the decision but refused to talk to us, insists it’s just business.


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“Business decisions are sometimes made that are not going to please everyone. We are very sympathetic to Ms. Huang and her desire to continue as a merchant at the Market,” said Ross, adding there’s a “combination of an over-representation of the souvenir category, the need for tenants to operate during set market hours as required by the lease agreement, and the city’s right and obligation to make decisions that are best for the market.”

Huang feels it stems back to her complaint about a busker/panhandler with addiction problems.

“I like music but he was playing all day at the front and driving away customers and giving me a headache,” Huang said. “I was told this was market culture and they could put me in the basement. But I was paying rent and he wasn’t.”


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  1. The Souvenir Market owner Jenny Huang at her shop at St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, Ont. on Wednesday, June 23, 2021.

    WARMINGTON: St. Lawrence Market vendor’s business survives pandemic but still battling City Hall

  2. Jenny Huang, owner of The Souvenir Market, is pictured outside of St. Lawrence Market on June 23, 2021.

    WARMINGTON: Woman’s business dream turns into COVID nightmare

Since her complaint, she said, a by-the-book market rules compliance effort against her began.

“On Saturdays they wanted me to open at 5 a.m., but I always opened at 8 a.m. for years,” Huang said. “They used that against me and took pictures of my store.”

It almost sounds to me like George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four, so I asked the city if this is how a single female should be treated for not selling souvenirs at 5 a.m. She saw it as “bullying” and felt the basement comment, and others, were inappropriate toward an “Asian woman” sensitive about the connotation.


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But Ross explains “taking pictures in our own facility is legal and is often required” to document “incidents of non-compliance that can support validating any violation of lease obligations” while adding however “intolerance, bullying or intimidation is completely unacceptable.”

And while they have “not received a complaint from Ms. Huang that details these alleged incidents,” she is “encouraged to present these concerns to the city of Toronto’s Ombudsman.”

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Legendary Toronto criminal lawyer Calvin Barry has taken on the case pro bono but said he will comment after reviewing the documents and the law.

If always-on-time rent-paying Huang were an illegal drug-user or squatting on the sidewalk, there would be more sympathy, tolerance and assistance. That this is even happening is ironic in Toronto, which has weekly flag raising for worthy agendas while offering no answer, solution or compromise for a woman who came here in 1992 from China and is now under robust bureaucratic siege in this land of so-called opportunity and fairness.

Ross is a very professional person I respect greatly but while he does “appreciate” my “work as a journalist to give her a voice” and hopes I “understand the city has an obligation to ensure it is managing the market responsibly,” I respectfully submit kicking a woman to the street is not responsible amid a pandemic that has been catastrophic for businesses.

If able, I will give her a voice even after she’s turfed to report how, with no income, she copes.

Some may want her cancelled but I want her to continue.



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