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The Fair Trade Towns Initiative

The Fair Trade Towns initiative is new to Canada, adapted from the international campaign initiated in the United Kingdom. By becoming a Fair Trade Town we are confirming our community's commitment to supporting the principles of Fair Trade, and improving the livelihoods of millions of farmers and workers in the global South who benefit from the Fair Trade certification system.

To become a Fair Trade Town, our community must achieve the goals outlined below. These goals encourage access to Fair Trade Certified products in the community, as well as increasing education and public awareness on the issue of Fair Trade.

A Brief History of Fair Trade Towns

The concept of a Fair Trade Town was established in the UK in 1999 when local members of Oxfam in Garstang England decided to elevate local awareness of Fair Trade by establishing the concept of a Fair Trade Town. The campaign won the support of local businesses, churches, schools, town council and the local media.

A criteria for qualification as a Fair Trade Town was created and made dependent on the number of retail stores and cafés supplying Fair Trade products in comparison with the population. There was also a requirement for support from local faith groups, schools and the town council.

Upon satisfying the criteria, in 1999, town council declared Garstang a Fair Trade Town.

By 2006 there were more than 200 Fair Trade towns in the UK and by 2009 this number had grown to 400, including Dublin, London and Edinburgh. Fair Trade Towns were also appearing throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand and United States. San Francisco qualified in May 2009.  By 2010 the number of Fair Trade towns worldwide had exceeded 600.

In Canada, Wolfville, Nova Scotia was declared, by town council, as Canada's first Fair Trade Town in 2007. Additional smaller communities such as, La Peche QC, Port Colborne ON, Gimli MB, and Golden, B.C. were added in 2009, but to date no cities of any significant size. In May 2010 Barrie and Vancouver  became the first cities of significant size to be designated by TransFair Canada as Fair Trade Towns. More information is available at www.fairtradetowns.org and www.transfair.ca.

Barrie Fair Trade City Initiative Requirements and Compliance

There are six requirements for qualification as a Fair Trade City. These requirements and their status are as follows.

  1. Local Authority Support

    Requirement: The City of Barrie agrees to qualify for and achieve Fair Trade City status as per the requirements of TransFair Canada. In addition the City agrees to use Fair Trade coffee and tea in its own lunchroom, and appoints a staff member to ensure commitment to the initiative.

    Status: (May 15, 2010) In May 2010, Motion FIN012-10 was passed by Council to commit the City of Barrie to qualify for and achieve Fair Trade City status.

    In May 2009 the City Hall lunchroom coffee brewer was converted to a machine that promotes and provides Fair Trade coffee. Tea was added in March 2010. Zarah Walpole of the City of Barrie was appointed in 2009 to head the Fair Trade City Task Group.

  2. Availability of Fair Trade Products in Barrie

    Requirement: Qualification requires a minimum # of retail stores and cafés supply and serve Fair Trade products. This # is prorated to population. For Barrie, population 130,000 there is a requirement of 26 retail stores and 13 cafés. Note that qualifying stores must carry a minimum to two distinct products; example coffee and tea or chocolate etc.

    Status: (May 15, 2010) Currently documented are 28 retail stores and 13 cafés. The City has met this requirement. See Fair Trade Suppliers PDF (hosted by fairtradebarrie.com). In addition are listed many businesses that carry only one Fair Trade product. The number of qualifying stores increases every month or so as new products are introduced. For example, Zehrs added Fair Trade grapes and Melitta coffee earlier this year. Also Cadbury has announced that in June of 2010 it will launch its Fair Trade Dairy Milk bar in Canada. This will quickly convert many single product stores to two product stores.

  3. Community Support

    Requirement: Community organizations, faith groups and schools use and promote Fair Trade products.

    Status: (May 15, 2010) Diverse organization in the Barrie community support Fair Trade. Georgian College, Barrie North Collegiate, Barrie Central Collegiate, St. Joan Of Arc High School, Pope John Paul II High School, St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Central United Church, The YMCA, The Barrie Library, The MacLaren Art Centre, The Huronia Symphony, The Rotary, Kiwanis, Grandmother to Grandmothers have all participated in numerous events promoting Fair Trade. See News & Events, and Photo Gallery for more information.

    In November 2010 The Barrie Fair Trade Working Group was chosen as the recipient of the annual YMCA Simcoe/Muskoka Peace Medallion Award for its work promoting Fair Trade.

  4. Public Awareness and Media Coverage

    Requirement: Events, communication and media coverage are organized to promote Fair Trade awareness.

    Status: (May 15, 2010) 138 Fair Trade events in Barrie are documented on the BFTWG website since 2006. Newspaper, TV coverage, the BFTWG website and a quarterly newsletter have all contributed to Fair Trade awareness.

  5. Local Fair Trade Steering Group

    Requirement: A local steering committee is created to maintain commitment to Fair Trade promotion.

    Status: (May 15, 2010) The BFTWG was formed in 2005 by Bob Jowett and Bruce Morton. Members include representatives from local schools, churches and business. The organization meets monthly, assists with local events, maintains a website and quarterly newsletter.

  6. Ethical and Sustainable Consumption

    Requirement: Other ethical and sustainable purchasing and consumption initiatives are promoted within the community.

    Status: (May 15, 2010) In May 2009, the City of Barrie created a new By-Law 2009-76, that incorporated Green (sustainable) and Fair Trade requirements into the City of Barrie procurement policies. The BFTWG group also partners with Barrie Living Green and GEAR at Georgian College to promote environmental sustainability.

For further details download the Fair Trade Towns Action Kit (PDF: 1.8MB).

More details about Fair Trade Towns can also be found at: