Toronto Selected to Host the 11th International Public Markets Conference in 2023

Jul 24, 2022
Jul 29, 2022
St. Lawrence Market Complex, South Market.
"This is an exciting moment for Toronto as we have been chosen to host the International Public Markets Conference in 2023. This conference will be an opportunity to welcome market leaders from around the world and to showcase Toronto’s thriving public markets and neighbourhoods to a global audience."

—Mayor John Tory
, City of Toronto

We're excited to announce that Toronto, Ontario, Canada, will be the host city for our 11th International Public Markets Conference taking place June 8-10, 2023. Co-hosted with the City of Toronto, the City’s St. Lawrence Market and Market City TO, this event will convene leaders in public markets from across the globe. It will be Project for Public Spaces’ first fully in-person conference since 2019 and a much awaited opportunity to bring our network together after such a long time apart.

For over 30 years, Project for Public Spaces has brought together accomplished market managers, community advocates, and visionary leaders to explore the changing forces that are shaping the face of today's public markets. Since our inaugural International Public Markets Conference in Seattle, Washington, USA, in 1987, the event has also become a celebrated forum for convening strategic partners in the fields of public health, community development, food systems, and social policy. 

Thorncliffe Park Neighbours' Night Out, a community event organized by the Thorncliffe Park Women's Committee. Credit: ERA Architects

In Toronto, conference participants will have an opportunity to observe Market City planning in action, the dynamic process of bringing various stakeholders together to drive forward plans that recognize the importance of public food infrastructure in building a livable city of the future. Home to more than 200 food initiatives and public markets in neighborhoods across the city, Toronto is the perfect place to imagine new models and mobilize partnerships to make it happen.

Toronto, a Market City in the Making

The city is also recognized internationally for its leadership in food systems work. For example, the Toronto Food Policy Council has put forth a motion to update the Toronto Food Charter to address inequities made evident by the Covid-19 pandemic. To support the development of inclusive, resilient, safe, diverse, and sustainable food systems, Toronto has also made international commitments including the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact and the C40 Good Food Cities Declaration. Toronto also tops international ratings as one of the 10 most multicultural cities, one of the safest cities in the world, and the world’s most livable city.

Toronto’s Afro-Caribbean Farmers’ Market. Credit: Jonah Zapparoli

Our conference co-host, the St. Lawrence Market, first established in 1803, is consistently ranked as one of the world’s top food markets. Today, what was once known as Toronto’s original “Market Block” is now the site of the newly established St. Lawrence Market District, which includes St. Lawrence Hall and the North and South Market buildings and functions as a key community hub for governance, trade, and food access for the city. Toronto is investing in its markets—a key component of a Market City—through the multi-million dollar redevelopment of the St. Lawrence Market's North Market building to maximize its benefits to vendors and visitors.

Building Momentum for Market Cities

At our 10th International Public Markets Conference in London, UK, in 2019, over 300 participants gathered at a particularly exciting time for the City, which had recently created a new standard-setting citywide markets policy, transforming the way the Greater London Authority supports and maintains its growing network of markets. The conference provided an up-close look at how markets of all scales, with financial and policy support from municipal government, can improve community-level outcomes, from health to entrepreneurship.

Building on this momentum, in fall 2019, Project for Public Spaces partnered with HealthBridge Foundation of Canada and Slow Food International to launch the Market Cities Program to strengthen the regional systems behind the market stalls, connecting and supporting a diverse set of stakeholders through research, specialized training, and a network of peers around the globe.

In 2020, as part of our Market Cities Pilot Project, Project for Public Spaces worked with local partners in Toronto to assess its market systems and public policies. Toronto’s co-hosts hope to leverage the conference to work towards implementing several of the recommendations that came out of this project, with a particular emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

"Toronto’s public market champions have long advocated for the role markets can play in creating an equitable city and we can’t wait to introduce conference attendees to the city’s plethora of public markets and unique grassroots models. We hope you’ll join us next summer to learn and celebrate in a global destination that embodies diversity through its public markets."

—Kelly Verel
, Co-Executive Director, Project for Public Spaces

Toronto, like many cities, is also experiencing a moment in which Covid-19 has underscored problems of food insecurity and equitable access to economic opportunities. For example, many of the city's markets struggled to be seen as an essential service and remained closed longer than many of their North American counterparts. The conference program will focus on increasing education on the role of public markets in inclusive local economies and celebrating market managers and vendors—especially Black, Indigenous and People of Color leaders—among other goals. Attendees will have the opportunity to experience how Toronto is supporting these plans through a range of on-site workshops and tours.

We invite you to join us and experience the diversity of Toronto’s market scene June 8-10, 2023!

To receive the latest updates regarding the conference call for proposals process and program, subscribe to the Biweekly Bazaar, our regular Market Cities newsletter. Additional information will also be available on the conference website, so please check back regularly at publicmarkets.pps.org.

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