How to be Berry Co-operative
One of the newest co-ops in the province is the Berry Road Food Co-op, under construction now in Etobicoke on the western edge of Toronto. The project is led by James Partanen, Executive Director, formerly of West End Food Co-op, and a team of supporters and Etobicoke residents as well as local politicians Justin Di Ciano, local City Councillor and Peter Milczyn, local MPP. The co-op space is over 8700 square feet and will house a community owned store, educational programs delivered with the Stonegate Community Health Centre, and a café.
Berry Road Food Co-op will be the anchor commercial tenant in a newly constructed building that will also house a Health Centre, a Pharmacy, and a few other small shops. This building will be one of a four-building "Stonegate" condo development on Berry Road, six blocks north of the Food Terminal in South Etobicoke's Stonegate/Sunnylea neighborhoods. The Section 37 funding agreement between VANDYK and the City permits higher density building in exchange for community benefits, and has catalyzed this innovative project. The developer will support the new Co-op with some capital costs and also some ongoing rent subsidies. The building structure is mostly finished; permitting and planning is underway for the interior!
This fall, they are spreading the word about their grass-roots "Founders' Credit" fundraising program. “Founding Co-op Patrons” can buy “Co-op Credit vouchers” that will be redeemable when the store opens. The Co-op launched their fundraising campaign this summer at the Jean Augustine Centre for Young Women’s Empowerment, with the Honourable Dr. Jean Augustine, social justice activist and former member of parliament, delivering the keynote speech. Learn more information here and here.
Berry Road is part of the Co-ops4All initiative here at Local Food and Farm Co-ops, working to share ideas and expertise about the integrations of food security programming into regular operations. The initiative will explore and promote effective strategies like WEFC’s Co-op Cred program, pay-what-you-wish at co-op cafes (part of the plan at Muskoka North Good Food Co-op ), time banking at St. Jamestown Co-op and double shelving at Berry Road to maintain affordability on a basic group of food items. Berry Road is actively developing their "double shelving" model along similar lines to some Co-ops in the US to maintain income-accessible quality products at reasonable prices alongside more premium products to make sure everyone in the community can shop at the co-op.
For more information, check them out here!