Province Forces Popular Local Butcher Out of Business After 46 Years

Karl's ButchersToday, the Toronto Star spent hours interviewing staff and customers at Karl’s Butchers and Grocery (105 Roncesvalles), which has sold fresh sausages on our street for 46 years. Karl’s has been forced out of business by the province.

In October, the provincial government decided to enforce a harsh, literal interpretation of the 2001 Food and Safety Quality Act. The Province took Karl’s out of the Yellow/Green inspection system operated by the City (where they passed every inspection), and placed it under provincial regulations. According to these regulations, Karl’s is now considered a “manufacturing plant,” because it makes its own sausages. These sausages, which have helped make Roncesvalles famous, are prepared fresh in the store, unlike most sausages which are packaged and shipped from centralized plants.

Under the regulations, Karl’s is forced to pretend it is like some mass-production facility, forced to conform to a massive list of regulations that make little sense for a small, local business – even one dealing with raw meat. The province must even test the water every week, as if they were some rural factory taking water in from a local well. The province is simply incapable of distinguishing between a local butcher and a factory slaughterhouse, and a part of Roncesvalles is being destroyed as a result.

According to Walter Jarzabek of Karl’s, they decided they could not fight the province, and so they decided to close on December 22. A lot of local residents are upset. We should be too.

Unless the province can show how a local butcher like Karl’s poses a threat to public health, they should find a way to distinguish a business like Karl’s from the large factory slaughterhouses that are the Act’s intended target. Just because a sausage comes from a box out of a truck does not make it healthier, and it certainly doesn’t make it tastier. The public should have the choice to buy fresh sausages from a trusted and responsible butcher like Karl’s.

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UPDATE (Dec. 8): The Toronto Star article, plus a video, is now online here.

According to the article, about 150 small meat shops are facing provincial review. If only large factories are able to comply with the regulations, then local meat shops will be placed at a disadvantage, removing their ability to provide a distinctive and desirable product, namely fresh sausages prepared on site. And since Roncesvalles is famous for its sausages, this hits close to home. As Walter Jarzabek says, “The future of small business looks very limited under this regime.”

The BIA has also learned that local MPP and NDP Small Business Critic Cheri DiNovo intends to raise the matter in the provincial legislature before the session closes on December 13. The minister responsible for the provincial regulations is Leona Dombrowski, whose contact page is here.

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SECOND UPDATE (December 10): Cheri DiNovo’s statement on the closing can be found here.

She hits the nail on the head when she says that overly strict, one-size-fits-all regulations particularly threaten small “Artisan and Guild type businesses” like Karl’s. She writes: “If it is unreasonable to put large factories out of business because of overly-strict guidelines, is it therefore reasonable to force small businesses to close down?” She also provides the email address of Leona Dombrowski, the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, who is responsible for these regulations: minister.omafra@ontario.ca

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THIRD UPDATE (December 11): Parkdale-High Park MP Peggy Nash has also expressed her opposition to the treatment Karl’s has received from the province. Her statement is available as a Word document here. She writes: “The safety of our food is of paramount importance. Common sense, however, must be applied by this government.”

10 thoughts on “Province Forces Popular Local Butcher Out of Business After 46 Years

  1. Cyrus

    I AM PISSED. I’ve never been to Karl’s, until today I knew nothing about their operation or what kind of service/food they offer. But, I am a human being, something that cannot be said of the pencil pusher’s at City Hall. What would cause someone to ignore how much this business means to the local community and to Karl and his family, to ignore 46 years of quality service and product, and just close them down. This is EXACTLY what’s wrong with this city. In a situation like this ANYONE with a scintilla of compassion and respect for tradition would overlook the “new guidelines” that are forcing them to close, and give them a pass. Because THEY DESERVE IT. I’m sick, I’m discusted and I’m just blown away by the lack of understanding and gratitude that City Hall SHOULD have towards a small family run business that lends culture and color to this UN-CULTURELESS city. Anyone who has played an active role in the DESTRUCTION of a 46 year old family run business should hang their heads in shame. HOW THEY CAN GO THROUGH THE XMAS SEASON AND BE ABLE TO SLEEP IS BEYOND ME. What is the big difference TODAY in how they’ve run their store over the course of the last 46 years that is so crucial as to cause someone to raise their hand and say “HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT KARL’S HAS BEEN ABLE TO OPERATE FOR THE PAST 46 YEARS…..ya know what?

  2. marijola

    My family arrived to Canada shortly after the 2nd world war from Poland and settled shortly in the Roncesvalles area. Karls butcher became a good and trusting citizen of the community.

    He always cared about his customers and his store. It was always impeccable. He always cared about the cleanliness of his store and was always around greeting and smiling at his customers with wife and children helping.We lived in the area for about 27 years. Never that I am aware did anyone complain about sickness from the food made at his butcher shop. He was taught the old master way. The right way !! or no way !!

    like many of us that arrived here and had to work because the government was not going to help us AT ALL !!!! NOT EVEN A LITTLE zero. most of us had to be sponsered for two years to prove that we can make a go of it. Not like today, many get way too much help, they dont realize what we went threw when we came here and I will say quietly, most of us NEVER COMPLAINED, JUST WORKED HARD AND WERE HAPPY TO BE CANADIAN. They were all outstanding citizens and people like him are what toronto is all about. I remember Solarski, Granowska, and many many more that were trained in their specific fields in Europe and came to give their

    ALL !! These people NEVER were on welfare or unemployment, spent hours and hours and hours working and obtaining knowledge on how to be better at what they do. It was taught to them from their parents to do the right thing in life and be honest, good, and care for people.I know this to be true because we talked all the time to our people on Roncesvalles, we were like family, our children were their children and so on. This world has become centered on high corporate business and they are forgetting how they first started. But some remain small because their pocket remembers their customers and they are satisfied with what they have.

    They are rich in heart and spirit because they give back to the community.

    God bless you KArl and family and co-workers, you dont deserve this at all.

    If it was me I would protest and stand up to the city. If you dont, this will happen to others. In Europe this would not happen !!! I can guarantee you of that. Canada has much to learn of business and how to look after their people. I realize that Canada is not the place it can be. I am very ashamed to call myself Canadian.

    Shame on you City Hall and government officials for making this hard working family

    bow down to your ridiculous nonsence. Work and Work but no time to smell the sausage.

  3. John Bowker, RVBIA

    Thank you to all for your heartfelt comments. I hope you won’t mind if I clarify one point: the decision to impose these strict regulations on Karl’s was made by the provincial government, not City Hall. The city health inspectors gave Karl’s a full green pass every time they visited. Only after the province assumed responsibilities for Karl’s did these problems begin.

  4. Julian Goddard

    Perhaps John Taylor should not be so quick to judge based on an old butcher’s block. Research undertaken at the University of Wisconsin by Dr. Dean O. Cliver, Ph.D. indicates that Wooden Worktops are in fact more hygienic than those made of plastics:

    http://www.woodecho.co.uk/hygiene.htm

    There may very well be a reason why wood and not metal, stone and now plastic are the favored block on which many many individuals in the industry cut stuff.

  5. Keith Denning, Coordinator, RVBIA

    Hello neighbours:

    You may have noticed that several comments attached to this post have been removed or edited. I did that. Please bear in mind, when posting, that this site is accessible to your children and mine, and that what is on this site reflects on our neighbourhood.

    I certainly encourage you all to express your views, passionately if need be, but please, let’s keep the language civil out of respect for our neighbourhood and our neighbours.

    Thank you,

    Keith Denning

    Coordinator, RVBIA

  6. Ella

    My parents were loyal customers of Karols Butcher Shop up and until they were forced to close.

    My father, up and until he died, would come to Karols at least once a week all the way from Mississauga, just to buy his famous krakowska and blood sausage.

    In fact on my last visit to the family cottage, Karols blood sausage was the last meal my father and I ate together before he passed away last October.

    Although this is just a buisness to some, to others it is part of their families tradition…

    I was heart broken when I found out that they were forced to close down.

    With all the companies that cut corners for a profit, this family owned buisness produced their famous sausages so that they could mantain quality control… and for that they were closed down.

    How much more Big Brother does Ontario need to become before the we take a stand?

  7. Larry

    This is so wrong the Gov. should take a look at what they are doing to small business is this what the puplic wants (not) would you vote fore this Gov. again (not)

  8. Bogusława Kubisiak

    Wysłałam dopiero pismo do ministra Dombrowski zobaczymy,co odpowie!!napisałam same superwlatywy.czekam na odpowiedż.

  9. Michael

    it is time for the goverment to deal with the real problems and quite chasing the small businesses that have a good track record unlike maple leaf meats

  10. Anonymous

    Mcguinty’s nanny state strikes again. What do you expect from a gang that tried to ban raw sushi, pitbulls, smoking (except in casinos of course), and even decided to regulate how hot your hot water is allowed to be?

    Mcguinty is probably the most destructive premier we have ever had. Him combined with Miller are destroying Toronto.

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