About the Co-op
The resident-owned and operated St. James Town Community Co-operative is committed to engaging Toronto’s underrepresented voices including those of new Canadians, minority groups, youth, seniors, and women within the St. James Town neighbourhood. We use a Human Rights framework to work cooperatively across our differences.
St. James Town is one of the most culturally diverse urban pockets in the world, with an estimated 140 languages spoken in the 20,000+ person neighbourhood. Home to majority newcomers, this densely populated high-rise, low-income neighbourhood has, unfortunately, remained overlooked and underserved for several decades. The St. James Town Community Co-operative was created by residents to address the growing need for food security, capacity building, and emergency preparation.
With the support of our partners, the SJT Co-op cultivates capacity and employment opportunities for resident members through three key projects: The OASIS Food Hub, Resident Capacity Building, and Climate & Emergency Resilience.
Designed by members, residents, and experts, the OASIS Food Hub responds to the growing need for food security in the neighbourhood. This is accomplished through a Good Food Buying Club, community garden, and Black Food Sovereignty organizing.
St. James Town is a highly educated neighbourhood, but it is also low-income and underemployed. Through a Timebank, community-led workshops, and volunteer and employment opportunities, the Co-op is a platform for resident capacity and skill building.
St. James Town has suffered from a number of building-wide emergencies, and the neighbourhood consistently faced the highest COVID-19 cases downtown. By collaborating with organizations in the neighbourhood, the Co-op aims to ensure St. James Town has a safe response plan for future emergencies.
Goals of the Co-op
Develop a community cooperative suitable for a multicultural, mixed-income urban neighbourhood.
Empower residents to run successful social enterprises and community-based projects, with education.
Create green jobs and improve community health through resilient food security projects.
How We Got Started
In 2011, a group of St. James Town residents approached Low Income Families Together (LIFT) with a burning desire: they wanted to bring healthy affordable food into the neighbourhood in a way that built community and social inclusion.
They started to run pop-up cafes – providing healthy Pay-What-You-Can dinners, but it was an unsustainable way of doing community food. They conducted a feasibility study to determine: what organizational structure could adequately “hold” and sustain the work of the cafe?
The answer? A community co-operative! The St. James Town Community Co-operative founded and incorporated in 2015 with the mission of enabling food-and climate-focused community projects and social enterprises that improve the quality of life in St. James Town.