TORONTO — The Ontario Food Terminal plans to spend up to $5 million on two major projects this year to improve facilities for buyers and sellers.
General manager Bruce Nicholas said enclosing the loading docks will make the horseshoe-shaped terminal more comfortable to walk around in, especially in mid-winter.
It will also improve food safety, he said, and help maintain the cold chain.
“Today, if buyers are assembling pallets on the loading dock from different vendors to load into their trucks, the produce is vulnerable to cold or heat depending on the season,” Nicholas said.
He said enclosing the docks should help lower heating and cooling costs for wholesale companies, whose doors open many times a day, since heat and air conditioning will no longer disappear into the outside air.
To let in natural light, the new outer walls will be partially constructed of tempered glass.
The second part of the project involves building a roof over the center strip of the parking area within the horseshoe, where smaller vans park.
“When the weather’s bad, buyers have no protection, and it’s no fun loading trucks,” Nicholas said.
With a roof in place, buyers could take their purchases to one end of the newly glassed-in area and walk under the covered walkway to their truck.
Nicholas said both parts of the project are in the final stages of approval with the city, and the market has applied for a building permit.
“With luck, we’ll start in May,” he said.
He hopes to stage the construction in a way that will keep the market operating with minimal disruption.
Jim Gordon, operations manager at Ippolito Fruit & Produce Ltd., based at the food terminal, welcomes any move to improve food safety.
“We’re getting all kinds of requests from customers to guarantee food safety protocols are in place at our packing plants in Burlington and elsewhere,” Gordon said.
“I think at some point in time that’s going to impact us here at the terminal,” he said, “and there’s going to have to be some significant changes in how things move.”