ERA Architects

Micro-enterprise on Toronto’s streets

In early June, Working Habitat and Scadding Court Community Centre (SCCC) hosted a charrette exploring opportunities for small-scale enterprise and pop-up vendors in Toronto. The charrette introduced important lessons and concepts from Scadding Court’s experiences with Market 707.

Located just east of Bathurst on the south side of Dundas, Market 707 is a cluster of twelve vendors housed in modified shipping containers. This formerly blank and uncared-for space is now a thriving market that hosts community events, provides inexpensive opportunities for local entrepreneurs, feeds hungry passers-by, and fuels the street with new energy.

While examples of this type abound in cities throughout the world, they have been difficult to achieve in Toronto largely due to restrictive regulations. So it wasn’t easy getting Market 707 off the ground, but with the leadership of SCCC executive director Kevin Lee and the support of local Toronto City Councillor Adam Vaughan, the project is now a permanent fixture with plans to grow and expand to other parts of the city.

With this potential expansion in mind, the charrette brought community members, Toronto City Staff, and various architects and designers together to contemplate a) how projects like these can benefit their communities and b) how to produce them more easily. On hand was ERA’s Graeme Stewart, who discussed micro-enterprise as a key aspect of Tower Renewal, our project with United Way and the City of Toronto to create positive change in tower-block neighbourhoods. These neighbourhoods are in real need of small-scale initiatives at street level, and the precedent set by SCCC and Working Habitat makes just this kind of activity more achievable.

If you are interested in the lessons Market 707 has learned, you can download their newly published guidebook, “Modular Market Developers Manual,” from the Market 707 website.

A summary of results from the charrette can be found below: