Welcome to Parkdale People’s Economy
The Parkdale People’s Economy, also known as Parkdale Community Economic Development (PCED) Project, is a network of over 30 community-based organizations and hundreds of community members collaborating to build decent work, shared wealth, and equitable development in Parkdale.
The Parkdale People’s Economy is building just local economies through a participatory Community Planning Process; a Community Land Trust model; a local currency program Co-op Cred program; a movement for Community Benefits; and a community-based food distribution and procurement initiative through Community Food Flow project.
The Parkdale People’s Economy (PPE) project got its start back in Fall 2010 when PARC commissioned a research project to the Urban Planning program at the University of Toronto to investigate the impacts of gentrification on food security in Parkdale. From this research project, the group of graduate students produced a report, “Beyond Bread and Butter: Toward Food Security in a Changing Parkdale.” Recommending policy options and community-based strategies, this report has been serving as a ‘road map’ for community planning efforts in Parkdale.
Since the release of the report in December 2010, two particular recommendations have been put into action. In 2011, Parkdale Food Coalition, now Parkdale Food Network, was formed to explore and facilitate community responses to food insecurity. Meanwhile, a Community Land Trust model was taken up for the further exploration through researching cases from other cities and engaging experts, key community players and researchers in the conversation. Out of initial investigation, “A Place for Everyone: Parkdale CLT” report was published.
In 2012, the PPE received funding from the Metcalf Foundation to examine and test these innovative community economic development initiatives – the Co-op Cred program and a Community land trust model – in partnership with Greenest City and West End Food Coop. Echo Foundation also provided support to the development and implementation of the Co-op Cred program with PARC Ambassadors team.
In 2013, PARC, a lead of collaborative, received a two-year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to conduct a community food assessment study with a emphasis on food distribution and procurement in the non-profit community food sector – the Food Flow project.
In 2014, the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust (PNLT) was incorporated as a non-profit corporation. Through a series of community consultations that engaged over 100 community members and stakeholders, it evolved into an initiative to promote and enable community ownership of land, and to alleviate poverty through the lease of community-owned land to providers of affordable housing and affordable community and commercial services. The PNLT created a charitable arm, the Neighbourhood Land Trust, in 2016.
With support from the Atkinson Foundation Decent Work Fund, the Parkdale People’s Economy launched the Parkdale Community Economic Development (PCED) project in 2015, an 18-month community-based planning initiative in Parkdale. The goal of the PCED project was to develop a strategic neighbourhood plan for Parkdale. The neighbourhood planning process included ‘community wealth building’ strategies, neighbourhood-based economic well-being indicators, and a shared vision for decent work in Parkdale.
Since the launch of the Parkdale Community Planning Study in 2016, the Atkinson Foundation has supported growing the movement for economic and social justice in Parkdale by advancing two key directions from the Community Plan: (1) developing a Community Benefits Framework, which was launched in 2018, to ensure that new developments and investments in the neighbourhood address the needs and values of equity-seeking community members; and (2) hosting Anchor Roundtables to leverage the hiring, purchasing, and investing power of local medical institutions, such as University Health Network (UHN), Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and St. Joseph’s Health Centre, towards local housing and employment needs. In 2017, the City of Toronto recognized the Parkdale People’s Economy as the Neighbourhood Planning Table for the Neighbourhood Improvement Area of South Parkdale under the Toronto Strong Neighbourhood Strategy.
In 2018, the Parkdale People’s Economy partnered with The Public Studio to launch the Parkdale Leadership Training Series, a paid program for racialized women, trans, and nonbinary people in the Parkdale community to foster organizing skills for community building and neighbourhood resilience. Emerging from the leadership training series, the Parkdale Women’s Leadership Group formed to launch the Parkdale Wellness Drop-In, a peer-led mental health support space for community members in Parkdale. The training series and drop-in were supported by the Toronto Foundation.
In 2019, the Metcalf Foundation’s Inclusive Local Economies Program supported the creation of the Community Wealth Building report, a year-long research study conducted by the Community Finance Working Group that set out to explore how impact investing could be used at a community level to support local objectives for shared wealth and equitable development. The report advances critical thinking on community financing models and mechanisms that can help increase community influence over the flow of financial resources into the neighbourhood.
Here is a presentation on the formation of Parkdale People’s Economy