Monday, 26 January 2015

"Until Further Notice"

St. Lawrence Market without craft vendors? Can you picture it? Do you want to?

St. Lawrence Market has been waiting for a redevelopment plan to begin for a few years now. The old north market, or farmers' market, is going to be taken down starting this spring. It will take some time to build the higher, bigger, multi-purpose (with underground parking) replacement building. There is a temporary structure being built on the Esplanade for the farmers on Saturdays and antique dealers on Sundays, so they can carry on their business in the meantime.

The vendors of the Market Cart program, including myself, were told some time ago that we would be found places around the temporary structure. Now, as of late December, we were told that the Market Cart program will be temporarily suspended beginning in April, until further notice.

Until further notice. Does that as ominous to you as it does to me?

They say they value us, that they want us back. But that doesn't help the vendors who make their living there, some of them selling year-round, outdoors, in all weather. That doesn't help the visitors, from near and far, who love the colourful scene the Market Cart vendors provide along with their unique crafts and wares.

It just plain does not help.

Fortunately, the Toronto Star and an online newspaper, the Bulletin, have taken an interest and have published stories about the situation today. (The display photo the Bulletin chose may look familiar.) The author of the latter piece is by David Gareau, a Market Cart vendor of long standing himself, and who will also be gone as of April if nothing changes.

But where there is a political will, there is a way. That's why there is also an online petition being circulated which needs all the signatures it can get, from everyone, everywhere. If the prospect of a craft-vendor-free St. Lawrence Market, even temporarily, saddens you, I urge you to sign it.

I don't know if anger will help. As one my best vendors buddies keeps reminding me, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. And maybe if heads are allowed to cool and a backlog of pressing problems can be solved first, maybe the Market Cart program will be given better consideration.

And maybe an onslaught of petition signatures and polite, non-blame-y pleas in your accompanying comments will make a difference. Maybe we can change the minds that matter and keep the Market Cart vendor program going during redevelopment. But without all our friends from far and wide saying that they don't want an interruption in the Market Cart program and the unique vendors that makes it what it is, we're "temporarily suspended."

Until further notice.