Parkdale is Set to Get a Food Co-op

There was a piece in the Post a few weeks back about the condo development going in on the south-west corner of Queen and Dufferin. It was lots of the usual fluff about shops and restaurants, plus some whacked out idea about how the park across the street where the skateboarders hang out is being turned into a cinema. The most amusing part of the story though was what it didn’t include; like the fact that the train route to the airport (with all those additions diesel trains) runs about 50 meters from what would be the building’s front door. Or that the next door neighbour to the west is a huge community health centre with a meth clinic.

The Parkdale Community Health Centre is a large building with a small park adjacent to it. It serves the community well with a number of programs for lower income people (no health card is needed to obtain the free services offered) and they have everything from primary care doctors to chiropodists and nutritionists to mental health workers. Being such a community hub, it would make a perfect place for some food-related services. Especially because the 7,000 square foot basement space has been sitting empty since the building was erected a few years back.

Which is why it was so awesome to hear that the Westend Food Co-op has partnered with the PCHC to install their food store in the lower level by the end of the year.

The WEFC is a co-operative organization dedicated to promoting food security in the downtown west end. Prior initiatives include the Sorauren Park farmers’ market (now in its fourth year), as well as a cannery project, and administrators have been working for a while on opening a co-op store, mostly trying to find a proper location that would allow them enough space and the ability to do community outreach.

Since the point of the co-operative is to bring together farmers and producers with community partners, workers and consumers, the location is ideal. And with condos and gentrified housing nearby, it means that the co-op store will attract all types of consumers for a more robust business model.

But – the space is pretty raw. A few years back when the Parkdale Community Food Bank considered moving into that space, it was estimated it would cost about $700,000 to make it workable. WEFC and CHC have not released projected costs involved with opening the co-op store, but they are definitely in fund-raising mode as they work to start on renovations and turning the space into something usable. This fundraising campaign will include events, auctions, donation drives and the second round of WEFC community bond sales.

To make a donation, volunteer or become a member of the West End Food Co-op, please check out their website.

Image: West End Food Co-op

This article originally appeared on TasteTO