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Rotary Club gives up on helping Bayview

Last year’s Bits and Bites on Bayview Ave.

[/media-credit]Last year’s Bits and Bites on Bayview Ave.

‘Surely it is not a function of Rotary to stimulate owners on the strip’

The Rotary Club has cancelled a second Bits and Bites on Bayview because of lack of merchant response, says club member Peter Bennett, the driving force behind last year’s street party.

The taste-fest, held June 21 and 22 last year, was designed to publicize the street’s  restaurants and retail stores, as well as raise funds for the club’s community fund.

A year later, Bennett wonders why he bothered.

“Only four or five merchants went to great lengths to support the concept, and only one or two people, non-restaurateurs, have indicated an enthusiasm for a repeat,” says Bennett.

The profit generated was a disappointing $1,800-2,000.

Bennett, the owner of Hearthstone Property Management on Bayview at Belsize, concludes that Rotary cannot act “as a cheerleader for the area” and that “those at financial risk have to come forward and organize to protect and grow their futures.”

Sue Byford, of Bonnie Byford Real Estate Ltd., who designed a website and poster to promote the day, empathizes with Bennett’s struggle to unite store owners in a common project.

“I’ve tried to organize raffles and bargain days and they rip into me complaining that I’m trying to tell them what to put on sale,” she says. “When I’ve tried to distribute posters, they said. ‘Oh, no we don’t do that sort of thing.’ Yet the same people who turn me down show up on the steering committees for BIAs.”

Despite the apathetic response to the day, she nevertheless hopes that Bennett will reconsider his decision to scrap Bits and Bites altogether.  “It was a unique idea, and well worth it,” she says.  “A BIA might cost you $100,000 against one day of fun.”

Some Rotary members disagree.

“Surely it is not a function of Rotary to stimulate owners on the strip,” says George Hurst, Rotary past president.  “We went out of our way to be helpful, but in the process merchants determined that they were not interested.”