First term Saanich councillor Ned Taylor is among those opposing the University of Victoria decision to replace the Finnerty Express cafe with a Starbucks franchise.
“I wouldn’t hold it against my council colleagues if they chose not to take a stance on this issue, but as a Saanich councillor representing the best interests of my community I just can’t stand by and watch a local business replaced by a large international chain,” Taylor said.
“I feel it’s my duty as a local politician to stand up for local businesses.”
Taylor, 19, worked at the Shelbourne Plaza Starbucks while finishing high school at Reynolds secondary and says he witnessed excessive waste, coupled with a lot of imported products.
“For me, Finnerty is sourcing local products adequately for the students, for me it’s doing things right, why would I want to support a large chain that isn’t doing things right,” he said. “There’s no reason to replace it.”
UVic campus services announced in November that it purchased a Starbucks franchise with a plan to install it into the space that’s long been occupied by Finnerty Express below the UVic Bookstore.
Located in the bus loop, the spot is ideal as thousands of UVic students commute daily through the loop.
A student-led Stop Starbucks UVic petition has reached more than 2,000 signatures.
However, there is support for brand names on campus such as Tim Hortons and Starbucks, said UVic director of campus operations Jim Forbes.
“UVic’s customer base of students, faculty, staff and campus visitors has consistently voiced a preference through surveys, advisory committees, and focus groups that select brands are desired to complement the range of self-operated food locations,” Forbes said. “Starbucks has consistently ranked as one of three brands that was lacking on our campus.”
That said, when Taylor thinks of Finnerty Express, he thinks of the additional local jobs it creates by selling Salt Spring Coffee and local baked goods. But when he thinks of Starbucks, he thinks of how much waste he saw, as well as profits being shipped out of town.
“When I look at Starbucks, the products are not sourced by local companies, and the store produces excessive food and plastic waste, which I witnessed on the job, that’s the norm,” Taylor said. “Having seen it first hand I know that Starbucks isn’t leading the way in terms of environmental sustainability or in terms of reducing food waste, there’s things they’re doing right, and there’s areas for improvement.”
Forbes said UVic is committed to transitioning Salt Spring Coffee and local bakery products to other retail locations on campus, and that Finnerty’s currently unionized employees will have the opportunity to transfer.