I spent Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market at Cheapside talking about the Legacy Trail. I have to say, this is one of the most successful things to happen in our city in a long time. The variety of goods and people, the smells, the music. Smiling faces. Flowers. Puppies and old Bloodhounds. It is a tantalizing taste of what a real city offers. (And this from someone with a real issue with the whole “statue of slavery defender guy” crowning the space.)
Unfortunately, the rest of our downtown is pretty freaking dreary – and it’s not just because of the construction. We have far too many vacant or office-use storefronts, which just kills street life. When we leave the dream world of the Cheapside market, our true urban reality bitch slaps us.
Further, for how great the use of the Cheapside space is on Saturday mornings, at Thursday Night Live, and for various parties on the weekend, it is not working as it should during the week. In fact, it is still a total void.
We must insist on programming for that space. We need a community market there from 11-2 every weekday. Not a Farmer’s market, although there could be folks selling produce. But why not invite craftspeople and small businesses to sell their stuff? We could have food carts. Musicians and magicians could busk.
This is exactly the model at a great community market in downtown Ottawa – the Byward Market. http://www.byward-market.com/
People go where people are. So instead of this
We could have this
We need to dream just a little bigger. It will be ok. The space is there. It may take a small amount of money to hire a market coordinator, but I think the downtown business community would take care of that. There is already a built in audience for this with the thousands of downtown workers who are already parked, and in many cases, dying for something to do during lunch.
Even dreaming a little bit bigger, we could reroute the trolleys and have them deliver people to Cheapside from the Northside, East End, and Campus areas rather than just running back and forth, empty, on Main and Vine.
What do you think?