Minden farmers' market wants to stay downtown
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | July 6, 2017|
The Haliburton County Farmers’ Market wants to stay in downtown Minden, not move to the fairgrounds.
Former president, Angel Taylor, came to council June 29 to say their request for more space in future had only been “exploratory” and they did not want “unfettered growth.”
Council has voted to leave the market where it is, in the municipal lot at Milne Street and Pritchard Lane, until the end of this market season, but has indicated there will be talk about its future in the fall.
Director of Community Services, Mark Coleman, in a report to council June 8, suggested a permanent move to the fairgrounds, citing concerns around vehicle and pedestrian traffic, access for emergency services vehicles with the market being so close to the fire hall, blocking lower level parking to the nearby condominium and rear entrance to Bobcaygeon and Milne Street businesses.
However, Taylor said they conducted a formal poll of market vendors and they overwhelmingly said they preferred the downtown location. She said when flooding caused them to move to the fairgrounds earlier this year, visitor numbers decreased, but when they moved back to the downtown on June 3, numbers virtually doubled.
“We do very well in that downtown lot. From the get-go, we did not want to be in the fairgrounds,” Taylor said. She said it’s simply too far away and not visible. She acknowledged the market brings more pedestrian and vehicle traffic to the downtown but rather than seeing it as a negative, thinks it’s “cool.” She said downtown businesses champion the market and no one had witnessed “intolerable congestion.”
She questioned whether there had been a traffic study and if council could share information on what incidents had occurred, where, when and how many times. She said the market was keen to work with Coleman to address any safety concerns. The issue of safety came to council last July.
Taylor said their request for additional space could be accommodated on-site, with a new fire hall being built off of Highway 35 this year. She wondered if the empty building could then be repositioned into a pavilion. She added the former Dollo’s Foodland site on Bobcaygeon Road could be turned into a municipal parking lot if parking is the issue.
She said much could be explored “short of relocating 20 businesses to a new location.” She said vendors do not like to move, even within the market itself. She emphasized they are making their livings, not running lemonade stands.
She noted the Artisan’s Market is separate from the farmers’ market. She said that at one time, the artisans were located at the Minden Hills Cultural Centre. “A solution for one may not necessarily be the solution for both.”
Coun. Lisa Schell inquired about vendor numbers and was told the farmers’ market averages 15, but can be as high as 20 on long holiday weekends, while there are 14 at the artisans market.
Reeve Brent Devolin said that in the autumn, “This definitely will be an expanded conversation.”
LISA GERVAIS is the editor for The Highlander.