Cheapside Markets

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.

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?



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3 responses to “Cheapside Markets

  1. I am not so sure that we need a market coordinator or anyone to program activities for the “creative class” that we have. We should allow the creative folks that wish, to just come and do. Do the street musicians in Paris have scheduled locations where they perform? Or the food carts have specific locations where they may sell their wares?

    This is the problem with coordinators. They wish to strike a balance of vendors to ideology and politics to funding. If we allow this group then we will upset those fellows. Why do we need to schedule every single moment of our town’s existence? Our young people today cannot go out and play without having a destination and a purpose in mind before leaving the comfort of their homes.

    The pavilion is hardly configured to allow an impromptu usage by the normal lunchtime crowd. Seating or tables would have to be thought about in advance. One could use the tables of the Cheapside establishments but only if you purchase something from them, and it is only fair. Brown bagging it or “to go ” orders seem to be discouraged, or forbidden. Nothing in the whole area says “Welcome, come in and participate in our downtown”.

    It looks pretty but puts you off.

    • steveaustinlex

      thanks for your comments – my main point in all this is that we need much more activityat the Pavilion during the week – if it takes a coorodinator to do that, great – I think the business community will respond and fund a part time position – your suggestion of “crowdsourcing” for the same effect would be fantastic – however we get there, we need a much more lively space there….

  2. Peyton

    I agree with Carto; we don’t need a market coordinator. There are plenty of “Creative Class” people in this town to sort themselves out, as seen with the impromptu soccer/kickball, Frisbee, free for all that “spontaneously” appears on the CentrePointe Lawn ever so often (they only need a controversy to show up!) But in reality, performers, vendors, etc.. need to realize by waiting for which ever comes first (the chicken or the egg) you may miss the best opportunity. As for the trolley, it would be a shame to stop Main and Vine service for another route; that’s how I get to the west side from the east side of downtown and it’s great!

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