Monday, December 14, 2009

This little piggy . . .

I enjoy the Farmer's Market. I don't mind paying the extra for local product. What I do mind is the unrealistic people associated with the market. One group would be the vendors who want the space at their convenience and little cost. The others being the purchasers who want their own version of Granville Island or The Forks, both of which are public markets, not farmer's markets. And both these markets have the necessary population density to thrive.

After public consultation, the city spent considerable money renovating the building, creating the public square and negotiating an agreement with the Farmer's Market. The deal was to have the place open five days a week and viable. If vendors of the market think its a tough slug to do that then they should speak to small business downtown who struggle year round and work 10 to 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week. Small business pays ever escalating property tax, increasing light/water rates, provides its own sidewalk clearing and pays for a business license in order to operate. Most can't afford many employees so work the long hours on their own or with family. Most of these same small business people live in the city and pay tax on their homes as well. On the other hand, most of the people at the market do not live in the city and pay city taxes.

About a month ago I received a notice of a market being held at The Refinery on Wednesdays. I haven't been there - hate the parking issues around Broadway. However, over the summer I did try the growing number of produce markets available in mall parking lots.

The city should level the playing field and every market vendor should pay a fee for their stall regardless of where they set up. Market vendors should learn from small business. And my tax dollars should not be used to subsidize cottage businesses.

I will will now await the squeal!


  1. I agree with your stance 100% I first read about this "Lease Agreement" in the Agenda. Once again the city admin is saying one thing and doing another. They clearly state the Farmers Market did not meet it's obligations under the existing lease so why are they getting another chance? the terms were entered into by both parties. If I broke terms of my lease I doubt the landlord would be eager to give me another chance I would be out on my ear. One of the excuses was it was too expensive DAH! they are now responsible for the costs of running the place. I predict the City will be picking up the tab for this place within the next year.

  2. If CivicMistress hates the parking issues around Broadway so much, why not contribute to solving that problem by taking the bus? No less than four bus routes go within one block of the Refinery.

  3. Anon, do you have any other purpose coming here and putting down the Mistress? The comment isn't even close to being on topic and just illustrates how juvenile you are.

    I do not know the age of the Mistress, or if she suffers from any disabilities that prevent her from easily using public transportation, nor do I believe that you do either.

    Why not just stay away from the site if you don't have anything productive to contribute to the debate. This isn't meant as a website to spread information, but one where people can gather and debate the issues.

    As for the Farmer's market, I have been very disappointed with the end product at the new location. I much preferred the old locale next to City Hall and it was operational at a fraction of the price.

    What I would like to hear is from some of the businesses that permanently rent that space. Did the sign a lease on the expectation that the market would be open with traffic 5 days a week? How is this affecting them and their businesses.

    The people in control of the FM seem to have developed an ego, I couldn't believe the quotes in todays takes three days to prepare and clean up for one market day....please.... anyone with any farming experience knows that if you waste an ENTIRE day BEFORE and AFTER your market day then are not the most efficient worker around.

    Just renew the lease in a more favourable way to the city. For example, allow tennants or F.M. vendors to have access for just 1 or 2 days a week and require them to vacate their belongings and stands in between and then rent the facility out during the week to events, school groups, or other craft markets.

    There is not point in allowing the vendors to monopolize the market space if they do not ever intend to use it except for the one or two days a week. Furthermore, this would allow the facility to collect more revenue and expose different citizens to the area and surrounding businesses.

    I love the Farmer's Market, but the people in charge there need to be knocked off their pedestal and realize they do not have a divine right to monopolize that space as they see fit.

  4. By trying to pit downtown business owners against farmers, CivicMistress’s comments regarding Farmer’s Market vendors do not even speak to the core issue: better use of the space. Rather, these comments exemplify a complete ignorance of all things economic and are counterintuitive to the spirit and intent of a Farmer’s Market.

    Unlike most downtown business owners who place an order and wait for it to arrive by delivery, many of those at the Farmer’s Market are responsible for creating their product from seed to final product. It's a different allocation of labour.

    And shovelling 20 feet of storefront sidewalk is a little easier and less expensive than tending to quarters of land. Because of the vast amounts of property many of those vendors at the Farmer’s Market own, they are paying far more property tax than most downtown business owners.

    Regarding the home of the tax base, the owners of much of the commercial real estate in this city are national companies based out of province.

    Once again, CivicMistress has proven that while she is full of opinion, she is devoid of facts.

    At least my tax dollars are no longer going to subsidize CivicMistress’s rusty neoliberal opinions on either the public school board or city council. Sometimes the democratic process works.

  5. The Farmer's Market is just like every other socialist program in this province.... let's build a money pit on one of the more valuable pieces of property so that we can collect no taxes on the property then watch as a bunch of lazy farmer's choose to come and go as they see fit.

    Thank god Lenore never got elected, I can't imagine how many more of these money pits she would want to put around the city to browse through with her partner. Sometimes the democratic process works (now hopefully Lenore takes a page from the Mistress and quits running)

  6. "About a month ago I received a notice of a market being held at the Refinery on Wednesdays. I haven't been there - hate the parking issues around Broadway"...

    It's a shame you didn't bother to look into it more before writing things off publicly. To clarify it's in St James Church, not the Refinery building. There's a parking lot beside the building, as well as free unmetered street parking on 12th street and Dufferein avenue which hardly ever has cars in it.

    You say you went to the markets in mall parking lots. I've never understood those who claim "parking issues" around great shopping districts such as broadway and downtown, yet will drive further to a mall or big box area, park in a massive parking lot and walk the equivalent of multiple city blocks to get to the stores they're going to. To me the 'parking issue' is in the perception they have in their mind, not the distance or availability of parking in our core shopping districts.

    Perhaps we should be charging for parking in those massive big box parking lots to help "even the playing field" for the local businesses who are surrounded by paid parking.

    I'm sure the hard working, tax-paying small business owners in our Broadway district wouldn't appreciate the negative comments discouraging people from shopping in their area. Perhaps you're only concerned about the plight of small business owners when it sounds good for your argument's rhetoric?

  7. Anon at 8:52am. Your facts are as misleading as the claim the Mistresses facts to be. You criticize her while at the same time spreading your fear mongering garbage.

    "Regarding the home of the tax base, the owners of much of the commercial real estate in this city are national companies based out of province. "

    Where is supporting evidence for this? I have seen numerous studies that say the opposite, there is a small portion of the businesses that are owned by out of province investors (in fact my office building is one). However, where do you get the information that it is national based companies? Can you provide a link? This is contrary to what I have read and I would like to see your source. You cite the Mistress for misinformation of the facts, why not provide your own.

    Though I doubt your will as this is just another form of CAVES and past thinking 'folk' who attempt to further agenda through fear mongering.

    "And shovelling 20 feet of storefront sidewalk is a little easier and less expensive than tending to quarters of land. Because of the vast amounts of property many of those vendors at the Farmer’s Market own, they are paying far more property tax than most downtown business owners."

    Again, can I see your evidence here? Anyone with an interest in farming will point out the fallacy of this comment. Are the property tax costs per square foot not disproportionately higher for business owners than for farmers? And with many farmers making the farm thier homestead should we also not factor in the taxes business owners pay at their homes to the total cost? And your comment implies that these costs are not passed along on to the consumer by both business owners and farmers?

    I know someone who has a very nice antique shop from which she imports the majority of her items. She pays exorbitant levies and taxes on these items, she rents a small store space, should she have no advantages?

    The fact of the matter is that the Famer's Market is not living up to their end of the bargain. I remember when this new market was discussed and I heard all the supporters of it talking about how it would be such a vibrant spot and filled throughout the week. Are these same supporters now admitting that they are wrong and the place is only sustainable one or two days a week? That seems to be the impression from the radio, paper and comments online.

    Fine, we as a city made a mistake. Kick of the Farmer's Market (put them back where they used to be) and let's begin looking for a better use of the building. This Market was supposed to be an anchor on the revival of the South Downtown, not a dimly lit market open one or two days a week. We (and by we I mean the taxpayers and city) bot bamboozled by the supporters who now acknowledge what they asked for far exceeded whatever use they intended for it.

  8. "let's build a money pit on one of the more valuable pieces of property so that we can collect no taxes on the property "

    Sounds like you're referring to that capitalist money pit called River Landing.

  9. "let's build a money pit on one of the more valuable pieces of property so that we can collect no taxes on the property "

    Sounds like you're referring to that capitalist money pit called River Landing

    I am referring to both actually. We are filling this entire property with public buildings that are going to be expensive to maintain and provide little or no income.

    The entire management of the area has been dubious. Just think for a minute about the fact that we cannot attract any development down there.

    As for my comment on the Farmer's Market, the whole situation reminds me of my child around Christmas. He asks and asks for something he really wants (even needs he says), promises that it will get used and taken care of and that this is the perfect gift for him. Then when he gets it, loves it for a month and moves on to something else (that should've opened the gate for the personal attacks on my parenting skills lol). That is way I see this Market, which I supported in the beginning believe it or not. I envisioned strolling along the riverbank on a summer evening and stopping on the market for some fresh locally grown products, I thought this would be a nice attraction to the South Downtown and a good way to balance some of the private development.

    I have changed my opinion on it. This market is not what was envisioned and the response now seems to be that the vendors don't have the ability to make it what was envisioned.

    So what does that leave us with? A money pit as I said earlier. We are going to have to pay for repairs, upkeep and other costs associate with maintaining the value of this building that was promised it would be used 5 days a week but is now only used 1 or 2.

  10. They broke the terms of the lease simple as that. From an operational standpoint whoever manages that lease should evict them and find tenants for the building that are willing to contribute to the longterm vision of the area.

    Before everyone starts bashing me as a capitalist, I'm an NDP supporter. This isn't about politics though. This is about the City entering into a lease with the Farmer's Market that relied on each side maintaining their side of the equation. It is unfair to the city to have a vacant building sitting on the most important/controversial piece of property in the city for five or six days a week.

    If there is not enough 'business' to support the 5 day market as was agreed to in the lease, then don't renew the lease with the Farmer's Market (let them find another spot or return back to their old location) and find a tenant that is willing to utilize that property throughout the week (maybe a smaller scale museum, gallery, interactive nature centre, etc...).

    It is important to the city that whatever business is there is helping to establish and drive the development of River Landing, not resemble an abandoned building for the better part of the week. It should be bye bye Farmer's Market.....

    For those who think less of me for saying that, imagine if this was any other business operating there breaking the terms of its lease and tell me you would allow them to stay.

  11. Perhaps good 'ol Atch can save $58 million by moving the Mendel into the newly vacant Farmer's Market building.

  12. Anon 9:21
    Your comments are lengthy but understandably so, The real issue here is the entity called the "Farmers Market" and their obligations to the city (Local Taxpayers) that forked out the capital to build this place. The fact many of the suppliers or should I say "farmers" are walking away because of cost, shows this formula will never work.

    Just as the city has placed restrictions (something I don't agree with) on locations and numbers of pawn shops, maybe it is time they do the same for "Farmers Markets".

    I agree kick then to the street, besides that is where most of them want to be in the first place.

    As for those complaining they can't manage 5 days a week too bad that is what you agreed too now stick too it.

  13. River Landing is a car wreck.

    If it was meant to be funded by private-sector tax dollars and land sales, Atchison should have secured private-sector developers before he blew through $80 million public dollars (and counting) on this pinhead scheme.

    The private sector simply did not show up, and now the City is looking for scapegoats before tax time next budget cycle.

    They should look no further than within council and administration.

  14. This way this whole Farmer's Market is playing out should be a strong signal to those supporting Station 20.

    We hear about how needed such a building is, who appreciated it will be, blah blah blah.... two years down the road the promises are not kept and those in charge take offence to anyone questioning whether it was all really necessary.

    The Farmer's Market has admitted that they do not have the ability to operate the building with sufficient supply according to the terms of the lease. Funny, never thought I'd have heard that after listening to the bleeding hearts go on and on about the benefits of locally grown food (haha they are now in the paper saying they can't supply enough food).

    Thank goodness the provincial government pulled the funding on Station 20. It is just another case of the bleeding hearts jumping on a cause (and I admit the causes are usually good causes) and making demands based on ideals and not practicality.

  15. I don't know really if it is that they can't supply enough food. I'm guessing more that it is that they can't get enough people during the week to really make it economically viable.

    I would think the majority of people who go to the farmer's market come from more affluent areas than Riversdale. And, like most people, I work during the week and I'm not willing to drive downtown to buy fresh produce during a weekday. I go on Saturday, period. I also am not likely to go to Cava Secreta other than a weekend either -- it's just too far away.

    Maybe if a development *ever* occurs with residential condos at River Landing, things will be a little more viable. But right now I have no idea what would work in that area. It *is* an island and can't get that many people from its local area for an upscale product.

    I just am waiting to see what my portion of River Landing costs are going to be on my property tax bill. But council doesn't care as they keep passing increase after increase on buses, parking, water bills, etc, without any thought to how much it costs.

  16. Stoonguy, I agree with you to a certain extent. So based on your argument would you agree that the Saskatoon Farmer's Market is not ideally suited to be the tenant of their current building?

    You argue that development is needed in order to make a business there work, the idea was to get a business there working to aid in developing the area and create a public gathering spot. That was a big focus.... public.... gathering.... spot. Either the Farmer's Market has priced itself (and its lucrative deal) out of its market or the market is significantly less than what people believe(d).

    From the SP today,
    'Though there is a strong demand for local product and local food, producers are "maxed out," she said.

    "Our growing season is way too short to ever duplicate what we have Saturday," said Deb Claude, the market's manager of operations.'

    So I would likely think the conclusion is they can't meet the demand. The growing season is too short, they cannot house the market 5 days a week in winter. This should be a sign enough that the current location will not work for the Farmer's Market.

    Come April the Farmer's Market lease should be terminated and another business or public idea (like nature centre mentioned above) should be given a chance. Enter negotiations to allow vendors to set up outside during summer months when the truly earn some (unreported) income from their booths.

    I love a summer Saturday at the Farmer's Market, and would attend regardless of where it is located there is no need to let a valuable key to the South downtown development sit there and rot for 6 nights a weeks for the simple reason that it is the Farmer's Market breaking the lease.

  17. Local Shopper,

    I also received a notice that there was a market at the Refinery. Perhaps, there is a third market or maybe the flyer was mistaken. To think the Mistress would research every piece of information for her personal blog is unreasonable. She is doing nothing more than what we are doing in the comment section, except from choosing the topic du jour.

    In the world of blogosphere people aren't expected to report the source of every single piece of refer to


    For anyone who has not read, here is the SP article on the Farmer's Market breaking the lease. I will point out that is because they cannot grow enough supplies. They are forced to produce everything that they sell (an interesting little bit I did not realize). They simply cannot produce enough to stay open that many days.

  19. Anon (@10:13 - can't you people choose a moniker to respond to? ;) ):

    I unfortunately agree with you. It's a beautiful location and I think the market looks great there, but if they can't make a go of it, then it should be replaced with something that can. I do think the farmer's market needs an indoor space during the winter time but this space is just too large for what they can support, especially in winter. Even in summer I think it is unsustainable as there is just not enough people willing to go shopping during the day M-Friday.

    So yes, I guess I sadly agree. I just don't know what business can make it go in such a great location though to pull people in 7 days a week. A 'nature center' sounds kinda ridiculous to me (similarly to the MVA biting at the bit to get the old Mendel site), but hey, if you can attract people for something like that, good for you. Just don't expect me to pay the bills for it.

  20. Once again the city is most likely going to let these people off the hook. Who negotiated the lease in the first place?? The people involved should have known they could never keep the intent of the lease. How can the city continue to trust those managing this place. I agree downtown upscale residential development(What I have experienced, this isn't the cheapest place to shop)is required to make this thing work and I don't see that happening any time soon. So does that mean I as a taxpayer need to foot the bill until they get their act together. I for one say NO, NET, NADA!!

  21. Stoonguy,

    I have properly chosen to emerge from the trolls of Anon and bless the blog with an identity. As for the debate, it is clear the Farmer's Market should be sent packing, and I agree one more publicly owned space there is not ideal.

    The space should be opened for bids, make the bids contain what is the intended operation and hold the successful bidders accountable. There are several niches that can draw enough business to not rely on condos to sustain themselves. Escape Sports makes due across the street. Bring in something that will help draw people to the area and not something that requires people to be drawn to the area to work. Having the new Persephone located nearby and potentially a new Art Gallery should be enough traffic to get some business there starter. Perhaps a nice river view lounge? restaurant?

    Whatever it be, get something there that is not dependent on my wallet and other businesses (I think we can all agree on that one)

  22. It is certainly possible to run a 7 day market given the right tenants and lease agreements. London, Ontario has a beautiful market with produce, meats, crafts, restaurants, and more. Perhaps those in charge of our Farmer's Market should take a trip to London and see how they are doing it.

  23. That is not feasible here, our lazy farmers require three days of work (1 to prepare, 1 to attend and 1 to clean up) to make just 1 day of the market work.

    hahahahahahahahah sorry farmers didn't mean to offend you, but that quote in the paper today still gets to me. you really should be picking a better rep to speak for you

  24. Hey Anon @ 2:11, it really does take most producers probably at least 2 days to do their work. How can they pick, clean and package their goods on the same day they attend the market? Even in our great amount of sunlight hours in the summer, there is not light to pick your spinach at 2 am.

    Those who bake also require minimum a day before to produce their goods. I think you're saying they are inefficient when they really aren't. There's a difference between clean, washed produce that the public wants to buy, than combining a bunch of grain.

  25. I am not saying that there isn't work involved in preparing the products. But that work is no more different than any business. Do stores not need to do different displays, mark prices, unpack (and/or fold) merchandise. Same with restaurants too. To imply that a farmer spends three out of seven days simply to conduct one day at the market is highly misleading. While yes work must be done prior (as opposed to dirt covered veggies for example), I doubt it takes an entire day to prepare the product and an entire day following the market to clean up.

    I have worked on a farm before and I can tell you any farmer who is taking 3 days all totaled to prepare for one market day is doing a poor job.

  26. This is an interesting discussion...but one that keeps popping into my mind when this has come up hasn't mentioned. When the lease was signed the city supposedly said the Eco-Village would be built by 2009 as well as some other parts of River Landing Phase II...that has yet to happen. Considering how successful the market has been despite being located next to empty lots and construction sites, I think they deserve a bit of a break until the city lives up to it's side of things and there is more development around the market.

    I mention the success of the market, which it seems some people here will disgree with, but it has been an amazing success in attracting people to the area. Saturdays the neighbourhood is swarming with people, which I'm sure has had a positive impact on the area and once some of the development in the works is completed, it will only be more vibrant.

    Despite this, I do agree with the desire to have more activity at the Farmer's Market. There are businesses in the Farmer's market that are open 5 days a week, but it seems maybe the agreement needs to change to allow more permanent spaces at the market or allow different producers to share space, so that each stall can be used 5 days a week. This would be a great improvement, but that seems like it was a mutual miscalculation by the city and the Farmer's Market people. It should be tweaked, but market should continue. To give them the boot before the adjacent developments even get started would be a ridiculously short sigthed move.

  27. Hmm .. interesting. For those of you unfamiliar with Broadway, The Refinery is part of St. James and the notice I received talked about the Market at The Refinery. Also the merchants on Broadway are very aware of the parking issues so no secret was let out the bag.

    If the Farmer's Market became a Public Market and allowed for complimentary services outside of the "home grown/made" it might have a chance.

    I like the idea of a restaurant etc. in that space. Wasn't there supposed to be a restaurant/brew pub in or around the old pump house?

  28. Tim,
    I can't say anything about "promises" the city may have given the Farmers Market around other development but if it wasn't part of the lease agreement itself you can't hold them to it. This isn't a developer that has time lines for building structures. What happens if nothing else ever gets developed down there do we (taxpayer) keep paying the bills for the farmers market? All I want done with this area is to have them change all the lights on 20th west bound to no left turns. This has caused a nightmare with North bound traffic on the freeway. I was once in the left lane stuck on the other side of the river. Something needs to be done. Or city planning is non-existent and a joke.

  29. There are many examples of succesful year-round farmer's markets - Hamilton, Fredericton come to mind. The rub is exactly what has already been pointed out - succesful markets have a blend of local produce, crafts, butchers, fish mongers, cheese shops, cafes, resturants, etc...

    If the majority of our market tenants are bound to only sell what they produce how could anyone expect them to be open 5 days a week? Better yet, who the heck thought that could be the case when the original lease was being drawn up?

  30. Sean,

    I think that it is truly the question of competence in the Farmers Market board. They should have know from the onset they couldn't keep the terms of the agreement. My suspicion is they would have signed anything to get my money to pay for the building and couldn't care less. That is why the city shouldn't be negotiating with these people. Others here have said it right. Open it up to all to bid on and NO FAVORITISM!


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