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St Patrick's Market (Queen St. W)

The following is an excerpt from the April 4, 1913 edition of the Toronto World:


St. Patrick’s Market Cannot Be Used for Other Purposes
Effort of City to Act in Opposition to Will of Testator Was of No Avail

Yesterday was Toronto’s day at the Parliament buildings. The city had a ponderous bill before the private bills committee, and, like many other private bills, it was cut and mutilated unmercifully. The city was represented by W.K. McNaught, the sponsor of the bill; Mayor Hocken, Corporation Counsel Geary and the board of control.

The strongest gale that struck the city’s plans was directed against the request that the city should be allowed to use the site of St. Patrick’s market for civic purposes other than as a civic market, in spite of the fact that when the property was bequeathed to the city by D’Arcy Boulton in 1837 it was expressly provided that it was to be used forever as a public market and that if the city ceased to use it for this purpose, the property should revert to the heirs of the Boulton estate.

Mr. Geary, in pleading for the legislature’s sanction to the clause providing that the city might “use the site for other purposes that a market notwithstanding the provisions of any conveyance thereof,” stated that the property had been used for a market for 75 years and that now it was no longer suitable for this purpose.

H.T. Beck, counsel for the heirs of the Boulton estate, strenuously objected to the passing of the clause. “If the city doesn’t require the market they ought to give the land back. They are only able to upset the will on a technicality.”

Almost Insulting

“If this action had been taken by private parties they would have been called dishonorable men,” said J.R. Cartwright, deputy attorney-general. “The sum that is offered to the heirs, $5000, is ridiculous, almost insulting. The land is worth almost $200,000.”

Mayor Hocken claimed the land was worth no more than $40,000. “Mr. Boulton’s action,” he said, “was not primarily philanthropic in giving that market to the city. He wanted to add to the value of his own property adjoining. If the property paid taxes its price would have been paid out twice over in two years.”

The net result of the discussion was that the committee struck out the clause. The city officials were disappointed at this turn in their plans, and after the committee had risen Mayor Hocken said he was certain the city would now go on and rebuild the market.
 
Toronto has many great farmers' markets in different neighbourhoods, and we should give them interesting buildings like this one or spaces like squares. We can make our city more interesting to live in and give it a higher profile for tourists by encouraging fleeting culture like festivals and markets to spawn their own spaces as cultural institutions. I'm thinking of how TIFF evolved to give us the Bell Lightbox, an exceptional institution.
 
The Queen West neighbourhood could use a 'hub' in the way that Yonge Dundas Square is a hub for Yonge and Dundas. That hub could be St. Patrick's Market - a Saturday and Sunday farmers/craft/artists/fast food market would be a draw for the condo dwellers and OCAD-ers in the area. Might as well do this since it's standing 90% vacant anyways. The hyper-activity of the food court at The Village By The Grange seems to me to be filling a need for a gathering/commercial area in this neighbourhood that is lacking at this time.
 
I completely agree, Mustapha. I've always thought that the parking lot at Peter and Queen could be used for that purpose as well. I'd love to see some or all of it used for a Camden-style market. It would be a way to preserve some of the old Queen West as the ever-higher rents drive out the small businesses.
 
I would also think that a market might do better now that there is so much residential in the area. Queen West used to be far less dense, but now there are a lot of people living there, with many more on the way.
 
I'm not really someone who subscribes to the idea that local residential population in a city has a particularly significant bearing on the success of a major shopping area. Condo dwellers are fabulous for the local Rabba or Starbucks, but it's not like they go out and buy obscure comic books or high-end sound systems every day. The kind of unusual stores that exist on a street like Queen West have a catchment area of millions of people. Even all the condos being built in the entertainment district will house twenty or thirty thousand people. Think about a town of twenty thousand: there aren't too many comic book stores or unusual clothing stores in a place like that.

If you're talking about a food market, then I agree that local residents could be helpful, but again, the St. Lawrence Market has a catchment of at least several million people. When I was talking about the Queen and Peter site, I was thinking more of a Camden-style market than a farmers' market.
 
The Queen West neighbourhood could use a 'hub' in the way that Yonge Dundas Square is a hub for Yonge and Dundas. That hub could be St. Patrick's Market - a Saturday and Sunday farmers/craft/artists/fast food market would be a draw for the condo dwellers and OCAD-ers in the area. Might as well do this since it's standing 90% vacant anyways. The hyper-activity of the food court at The Village By The Grange seems to me to be filling a need for a gathering/commercial area in this neighbourhood that is lacking at this time.

Downtown needs more flea markets. St Lawrence has the knick knack scene covered well on Sundays. But St Patrick could host a weekly market that would feature old clothes or furniture or books or something. I'm thinking Brooklyn more than Paris here.

Btw why does the city insist on signing these super-longterm contracts on public facilities? Don't tell me it is to encourage investment. This guy has invested zilch in 20 years, I think.
 
Btw why does the city insist on signing these super-longterm contracts on public facilities? Don't tell me it is to encourage investment. This guy has invested zilch in 20 years, I think.

I think the long-term nature of these leases reflects the fact that they are essentially concessions, i.e. the government is obtaining a public benefit by leasing the right to operate for a period of time that is long enough for the lessee to recoup its capital expenditures. Unfortunately, the city neglected to obtain the commitments (or, at least, clear commitments) from the lessee to ensure that the public benefit would be obtained. There is a way to do this that doesn't result in the public being fleeced. I could probably even come up with examples. Clearly, the St. Patrick Market is not one such example.
 
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Statement on Legal Action to Restore Public Control of St. Patrick's Market

Posted by Joe Cressy on October 01, 2019

September 30, 2019

Statement from Local Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 10, Spadina-Fort York) on Legal Action to Restore Public Control of St. Patrick's Market

TORONTO – "As our downtown grows, it is vitally important that our publicly-owned properties and buildings are used for the public benefit, to provide the vital services and facilities that our vibrant and dense communities need. The City of Toronto has just taken a critical step toward restoring public control, for public benefit, of one of these vital assets in the downtown - St. Patrick's Market.

Situated on bustling Queen West at 238 Queen St. W, St. Patrick's Market is a heritage structure visible in the backdrop of television programs produced from the iconic 299 Queen Street West across the street, and broadcast across Canada. Bequeathed to the City of Toronto in 1837 to become a public market benefitting residents of Toronto, St. Patrick's Market has the potential to be an iconic, city-wide and local destination.

Regrettably, St. Patrick's Market has been underutilized since 1989 when a 50-year lease was signed with a private operator. In court documents released today, the City is asking the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to terminate the lease on grounds that the private long-term leaseholder has not complied with key terms of the lease that require a publicly-accessible food market to operate in the building, and the building has been chronically vacant. To the deep frustration of the City, local neighbours, and many others, St. Patrick's Market has effectively been vacant for more than year now, accumulating litter and graffiti.

It is unacceptable that St. Patrick's Market has been left derelict by a long-term tenant, and I strongly support the City of Toronto's legal action to terminate the private lease.
The court's decision is expected in winter 2020. Following what we hope to be a decision in the City's favour, we will undertake a robust public process to decide on future uses of St. Patrick's Market. We will consider its original intention as a public market, our plan to revitalize the adjacent public park, and other community and cultural uses that are so critical to support in our downtown communities.

The City of Toronto's legal action to terminate the private lease and restore public control of the property is a necessary and critical step toward a future for St. Patrick's Market that all Torontonians can be proud of."

 
City wins legal battle to take control of vacant market on Queen Street

Codi Wilson CTV News Toronto Published Saturday, December 14, 2019 9:18AM EST

On Saturday morning, Spadina- Fort York Coun. Joe Cressy confirmed that the courts have sided with the city and control of the market will return to the municipality.

In a tweet, Cressy said public land "must be used better."

"In an increasingly unaffordable city for artists to create, small businesses to thrive, (and) people to live, we must ensure that we utilize public land for public good," he wrote.

Officials have not yet specified what the city plans to do with the space.

 
"In an increasingly unaffordable city for artists to create, small businesses to thrive, (and) people to live, we must ensure that we utilize public land for public good," he wrote.

Yes! As a small business owner and an artiste I fully expect some city subsidy to run my office and small metal-working shop out of here. Thanks Cressy!
 

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