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CHATTER: Gas pains on Harbord, Tabares honoured (Sept. 2019)

October 8th, 2019 · No Comments

Last spring, long-time Harbord Village business owner Tino Tabares learned that the building that housed his gas station, Torreira Import Auto Service, was going up for sale. With the business under threat, the neighbourhood stepped up to help, but in the end, it was not enough.

The chair of Harbord Village Resident’s Association (HVRA) Gus Sinclair says that over the years, he witnessed Tabares go above and beyond for his customers, and for the community. Like the countless times he would deliver or even pick up cars from customer’s houses, just to provide them with great service and make their lives a little easier. It was something he did not need to do, but did so anyway because it was “just the way he was” with people in the community.

Torreira Import Auto Service operated out of a building on the corner of Harbord and Major for 34 years, and was a rare example of a downtown gas station.

“He was really special for the community. You have no idea what kind of luxury, you could drive up there, walk home, and then very soon he would call you and tell you that the work was done or sometimes he even delivered the car,” says Sinclair. “He was honest, and he was good. I had every confidence that when my car was getting fixed by him, it was getting done right.”

This was all part of the reason that the HRVA wanted to honour him with a Community Builder Award. Before they did, they learned that Tabares and his business were in trouble.

The owners of the property at Harbord and Major had been content, for years, to rent their property to Tabares. When that changed, they offered to sell it to him, but the price was out of reach.

When he declined to purchase the property, the owners gave Tabares two months notice. Many people including the HVRA tried to intervene on his behalf in response to the timeline. Yet, despite these efforts they received no response from the property owner.

Gus Sinclair says he felt terrible and decided to set up a “Go Fund Me” page for Tabares.

“I sent emails to thirty people I knew were his clients and asked them to pass it on to other people,” says Sinclair. “In the end we got 85 people and they all contributed to the fund which we called ‘The Tino Fund.’”  

The fund managed to raise $4,300 dollars, which was presented to Tino Tabares alongside his Community Builder Award.

As of right now Tino has plans for opening up a new shop; however, he does not yet have a location or timeline for when this is going to happen. The old signs are still up at his former location, which is empty at the moment. The building was sold to an unknown party and the buyer has been very private about what is going to happen with that location. 

—Juan Romero, Gleaner News

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