General News

Rosa spreads “Love Local” message across and beyond Caledon

April 14, 2021   ·   0 Comments


Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Every strong community is built on local businesses, but for local businesses to thrive they need residents who embrace them.

With more and more big box stores and chains taking local customers away from small businesses, keeping it local has never been more important.

Few have put in more work at ensuring local businesses in the Caledon area receive the support they need than Ward 5 Area Councillor Tony Rosa, a leader in the Love Local campaign. 

Rosa has been at the forefront of the charge in Caledon on the importance of shopping and eating local and he’s been using social media to spread the word on all the businesses the Town has to offer.

One of his most effective promotions of Caledon’s business sector has been the Love Local Caledon videos he posts on social media platforms. The videos follow Rosa to various businesses in Caledon where he shows off the products while speaking to their owner.

While his main focus has been on the Village of Bolton—where he resides—he’s hoping to ramp up the promotion and bring awareness to other regions of Caledon.

With the COVID-19 pandemic only putting an exclamation point on why people in Caledon need to support each other, Rosa has been working hard to ensure residents know about all the great places to shop and eat in the area.

“My first motivation was that I was always concerned about protecting the longevity of Caledon businesses,” said Rosa. “Even before the pandemic I worried about whether or not they could sustain themselves in our community. I had heard from a lot of business owners that were concerned we would need more population to support local businesses. I was always worried about the sustainability of local businesses in our community. 

“When the pandemic hit, obviously I got even more worried, so I felt it was important to at least profile businesses to inform people—especially during the stay-at-home order—that there were local options, and that people didn’t need to leave the community to find what they needed. We are really a bedroom community and I know a lot of people work outside of Caledon, especially in my area, Bolton. People do have to leave the community for work, and I know when you work outside the community you sometimes shop where you work.”

One key piece to getting people to stay local when they shop is making sure they know what Caledon has to offer and there’s no better way to spread awareness then to show them exactly what businesses have. 

“One of the things that really struck me initially when I first started was how many people were actually commenting about how they didn’t know some of these businesses existed in our community,” he said. “That was a real eye-opening experience, if people don’t know that something is here then they won’t access it because they’re unaware. My first experience with that was Forster’s Book Garden—if you think of the name, you think it’s clearly a bookstore, but when you visit them there’s so many other options, people weren’t aware they sold toys, puzzles, specialty foods, and so many other options. It’s been really rewarding educating the residents that they don’t need to leave the community and things are available at their doorstep. I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from the business owners as well as from the residents. I think the best way we can support local businesses is by bringing awareness to the community.”

Whether it’s a local retailer, food service operator, or an independent business, Rosa wants to promote them to let the people of Caledon know just how many hidden gems are in the area.

“I’ve done a series of promotional videos that I call business spotlight videos,” he said. “I introduce the business to the community and tell them where it’s located and then we go into the business and get the business owners to introduce themselves and their products and services to the community. The other thing that’s been very important is showing how to access the product—especially if it’s curbside—just kind of giving that profile to people. I’ve shared those videos on local online platforms and social media and the more they’re shared the more people will access them. 

“On any given video, we’re getting between 5,000 and 6,000 hits, so this platform has really worked. Also, through the Town, I put a motion through to declare every Tuesday ‘Love Local Tuesdays’ —Tuesdays seem to be a slower day for retailers and small businesses. I kind of piggybacked off of the Black Friday and Cyber Monday by introducing Love Local Tuesdays, following that weekend and then every Tuesday I profile a different business. It’s funny, now I get stopped when I’m out in the community and people tell me they’ve see my videos. I’m trying to do my part to keep these businesses sustained, if we can get them through this pandemic then we can get them through anything.”

The positive feedback Rosa has received from business owners and residents only motivates him to try and do more for the community through the Eat Local and Shop Local initiative and he hopes it’s influencing people to keep their focus local.

“People have been very kind,” he said. “I’ve received a lot of emails, messages, and letters of people saying thank you. To be honest, my whole goal here is to serve the business community and really protect them because when we get to the other end of this, we still need these businesses at our doorstep. I really appreciate the feedback I’ve gotten from the community, but this can’t just be myself doing this. It’s got to be the residents really stopping and thinking about what options they have locally. 

“I recently turned 50 in December and I did a challenge where we were in lockdown and I said I was going to get takeout for my family to celebrate. I did a challenge to the community asking them to join me in my 50th birthday celebration by going and ordering takeout. I can’t tell you how many messages I got from people about them going out and buying takeout that night. Sometimes all you’ve got to do is get creative and think outside the box. When I saw the reaction to that, I thought this will work and that helped me keep going with this.”

Although the pandemic is weighing on people, Rosa is hoping to keep the momentum going with localizing shopping and eating by continuing to promote businesses as much as he can for the remainder of the year as people get through these tough times.

“I actually did an amendment to the motion I had passed with Caledon Council (regarding the Love Local campaign) which was to do this for all of 2021. Originally the focus was to go from November to Family Day. When we saw the second and third wave, I knew this needed to continue and I lobbied and made an amendment to the motion and it was unanimously supported by council to extend the campaign for the municipality for all of 2021. Now there will be banners and advertisements continuing to promote it. The way we keep it going was by getting the backing from the rest of Council and my next idea is to expand our business profiles into other communities across Caledon. 

“I’m going to be working with the other area Councillors to do more business spotlights outside of Bolton and move into other villages and hamlets to showcase more businesses throughout Caledon and not only concentrate on my particular ward. We want to branch out and work with the other Councillors to bring awareness to the entire municipality.” 

For more information on the work Rosa is doing for the Love Local campaign and to watch his videos showcasing Caledon businesses, visit his Facebook page (



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