Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon wants Toronto tourism shop at city hall

Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon (Ward 32 Beaches-East York) wants councillors to look into opening a store inside city hall or in Nathan Phillips Square.

Souvenirs, TTC-branded items could be hawked, McMahon says

Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon wants the city to look into opening a Toronto-themed shop at City Hall. (CBC)

Attention shoppers: City hall may soon be getting into the retail business.

​Coun. Mary-Margaret McMahon (Ward 32 Beaches-East York) wants city staff to look into opening a store inside city hall or in Nathan Phillips Square.

The idea would be to offer visitors Toronto-themed souvenirs,  TTC-branded mugs and tee-shirts, and locally produced goods — which they currently can't get at city hall.

No flea markets

"I think it's a good idea to have some sort of a presence," Mayor John Tory said Wednesday, "but we have to be careful that a public building does not turn into a sort of flea market."

"City Hall is among Toronto's most popular sites for local and international tourists," McMahon wrote in a July 12 letter to the government management committee. "Unfortunately, there is very little infrastructure to support the tourist experience in this historic building."

City staff say there was a small souvenir shop that operated outside the city hall library in the late 1990s, but it closed around the time of amalgamation in 1998, and no-one recalls why.

One staffer said there does not appear to be a rule prohibiting a retail store at city hall.

So why hasn't one existed in decades? "It's just that no-one has proposed it," McMahon said Wednesday.

Minimal cost to the city

McMahon wants city staff to look into: 

  • A transparent selection process to choose a store operator.
  • Potential for satellite locations across Toronto.
  • The feasibility of online retail of city of Toronto and TTC branded goods.
  • Appropriate space within city hall or Nathan Phillips Square;
  • Next steps needed to create a city hall store.       

She predicts that setting up the store would have "a minimal impact on the city's budget." As for where the proceeds from sales should go, she said she's open to suggestions. 

The idea will be debated at the Sept. 6 meeting of the government management committee.