The city of Torino is implementing an innovative model to avoid the closure of small local markets and promote social cohesion.
The City of Torino has acknowledged that local markets are essential for their communities and has implemented an Area of Commercial Coverage (ACC) model to assist stall proprietors to maintain their businesses. An Area of Commercial Coverage is a small market, placed exactly on the same area of the low-performing market, having a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 6 stalls. Their layout shall avoid empty spaces thus giving a more coherent look to the area. At least 2 stalls have to be devoted to food (one for fruit and vegetables and one for meat, cheese or fish), so as to give the opportunity to customers, especially the elderly and those with mobility issues, easy access to healthy and fresh food. Additionally, this measure has had a positive environmental impact by giving stall operators the responsibility to dispose of their own waste by bringing it to a specific collection point.
URBACT Good Practice Label
This project was awarded the 'URBACT Good Practice Label' in 2017.
In 2014, at the request of the city administration, researchers at the University Politecnico of Torino analysed the “as-is situation” of traditional markets operating in the city and discovered that 10 of the city’s 42 open markets were low economic performers and risked closure. Using the research data, the department in charge of markets at the city of Torino came to the conclusion that even non-competitive markets were valuable for promoting social inclusion, healthy and eco-friendly habits, prevention of degradation in outer neighbourhoods, and provided local services to the elderly and people with low mobility.
The Areas of Commercial Coverage model represents the intention of the city administration to provide a service which is particularly relevant for the more disadvantaged segments of the population and for the most peripheral areas, by favouring the role of markets as places of community life and social inclusion.
The objectives of the ACC strategy are:
1) Reducing the risk of unemployment for stall operators who are mostly immigrants,;
2) Keeping the public space active and used by citizens, including both the marketplace and neighbouring green spaces, leisure areas, etc.;
3) Keeping outer districts active from a commercial and social point of view (both markets and local shops, cafés, etc);
4) Providing fresh food on a daily basis in all city areas by having a widespread market network;
5) Give the responsibility to each stall owner to dispose of their own waste, meaning less cleaning costs for the municipality;
6) Reducing car trips to other commercial areas to buy food, thus reducing traffic and CO2 emissions;
7) Securing the communal meeting space for the elderly and low mobility people.
The ACC model has been developed according to a city council regulation - organizing retail in public areas. According to this regulation, the market operators are represented by market committees and a technical advisory committee. The latter is formed by the Deputy Mayor in charge of commerce, a representative of the local police, the head of the markets department of the city of Torino, the representatives of the trade associations and the representatives of the consumer associations.
The technical advisory committee is charged with making decisions concerning retail in public areas. Thus, the decision to establish ACCs was taken with the involvement and agreement of all the relevant stakeholders represented in the committee.
Moreover, the process was also shared with the responsible city district local governments (Circoscrizioni). In each city district a public meeting was organised to present the project and each assembly voted to approve the initiative. Finally, each stall operator has been given the choice to join the ACC or to move to the nearest market area.
The lead agency for the project Is the City of Torino with research support provided by the University Politecnico of Torino. The total budget to date of 34K€.
The key factor for undertaking this project is the preservation of the role community markets as places of identity and social gathering. This initiative has prevented flow on negative effects from the closure of a local service which such as the degradation of the public space previously devoted to the markets, the generation of more car trips to reach other commercial areas, as well as the decline of shops and commercial activities located in the market area.
Moreover, the stall operators have been given the opportunity to keep their own regular customers, since loyalty is one of the main drivers of the seller-customer relationship. Finally, the users of the concerned markets/ACCs have perceived the role of the public administration as the “keeper” of the common good, regardless of the economic priorities.
Significant savings by the city administration connected to the waste management costs of the ACCs has been achieved.
The main challenge was communicating the changes and new model of operation with the stall holders of each market.
The ACC model may be useful to other cities who have an informal market economy such as Torino. The ACC can be adapted to their local and national regulations, public spaces, commercial and social habits. Moreover, ACCs can be implemented in cities of various sizes since they are very locally based, and are not affected by the overall dimension of the city. City administrations might consider ACCs as a good instrument to reinforce their relationship and dialogue with those citizens living in peripheral and/or more disadvantages areas, by committing to a project that unites the administration and its citizens around the challenges of common issues: employment, affordability and proximity of services, environmental protection.
URABCT case study: Areas of commercial coverage, an innovative model to keep small, local markets alive and promote social cohesion: http://urbact.eu/areas-commercial-coverage
City of Torino, URBACT GOOD PRACTICE CALL: http://urbact.eu/sites/default/files/172_Torino_GPsummary.pdf
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