Chinatown BIA slams study calling area 'food desert'

By CBC News Ottawa, December 13, 2020

The head of Ottawa's Chinatown BIA is blasting a new study that refers to West Centretown as a "food desert."

"For us it was shocking and unbelievable," Grace Xin told CBC's All In A Day on Thursday. "Instead of being a food desert, I would think it's a food oasis."

In late November, the Somerset West Community Health Centre published a study on food security in the neighbourhood and concluded the closure of the Loeb grocery store on Booth Street in 2006 left a gap that's never been fully filled.

The report found accessing food is particularly difficult for low-income residents who have to travel long distances, sometimes by bus, to reach grocery stores, or who resort to shopping at convenience stores that tend to be "higher priced, have lower quality and selection, and are less likely to offer culturally appropriate food choices."

Xin said the report ignores the many offerings available at family-run grocery stores in the neighbourhood, not to mention take-out options at a range of different businesses including Chinese, Indian, Latin and Middle Eastern restaurants.

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