Our love affair with the Guelph Farmers’ Market

April 26, 2013

Blog

I love how we love our Farmers’ Market.  Hats off to the vendors who are at the heart of this love affair!

As stewards of the Farmers’ Market, business continuity for our vendors and their customers must be City Hall’s primary focus – in the same way Guelph Hydro’s core mandate is to keep the lights on.

In 2010, we had to close the Farmers’ Market on short notice to fix a significant structural issue with the roof – entirely necessary but not a shining example of business continuity.  We found a solution but not one that accommodated all vendors.  We quickly understood the complexities of ensuring business continuity for all our vendors.

We have learned.  There is further work that needs to be done on the building.  If we put it off we risk repeating history. Not going to do that. 

While the Downtown Secondary Plan does contemplate moving the Farmers’ Market to a larger facility in the long term, it also contemplates a new main library.  Neither has funding in the 10-year capital budget.  Nor has there been any community consultation or Council decision on moving the Farmers’ Market.

We simply cannot risk in the short, medium or long term (depending on how you define “long term”) the business continuity of the Farmers’ Market.  This is the right investment to make – now.

Based on their comments in the media, I am disappointed to see two members of Council question the good work of our staff.  This is exactly the kind of proactive management we expect from our team.

We don’t rip up the roads to do planned upgrades of the sewers and then six months later rip it up again to do planned upgrades of  the water pipes and then six months later rip it up again to planned upgrades of the road bed.  You get the point.  As much as we can, we coordinate this work even if it means living with rough roads for a while.

If we have to move our vendors – which is a major imposition - then we should be making sure we get everything done that needs to be done to minimize any future disruption of operations.

I am personally very appreciative that our staff understands the importance of the Farmers’ Market to this community and that they have made business continuity for our vendors and their customers a top priority in their work plans and budgets.

Here is a message that we received from our CAO today that provides some additional context:

Good morning Mayor and Council,

I would like to provide you with an update on the Farmers’ Market renovation and temporary relocation project.

The driving force behind this project is to ensure business continuity for the market, shoppers and for its vendors. This project is an opportunity for the City to improve safety, accessibility, cleanliness – all required to ensure the operation of an important landmark in downtown Guelph.

This renovation to the Farmers’ Market is a necessary investment in 2013. As you may already know, Public Health and the Guelph Fire Department advised the City to renovate the Farmers’ Market facility to ensure the health and safety of vendors and customers.  In response, City Staff developed a plan to address the condition of the building and minimize disruptions to market vendors, customers and as best we can, the community at large.

Last year, City Council approved a $2.2 million budget in the 2013 life cycle capital for Corporate Building Maintenance and $170,000 was earmarked for the Farmers’ Market renovation project.

Rather than causing several separate disruptions to the operation of the Farmers Market in the years ahead, staff refined our corporate building maintenance plans by aggregating existing funding and deferring lower priority projects to make funding available to complete the necessary floor coating and much needed improvements to accessibility and operations.

A $500,000 investment in the Farmers’ Market facility will ensure the facility is clean, safe, operational and accessible for all users. Funding of the Farmers’ Market renovation and relocation project includes:

  • $30,000 surplus from the 2012 Farmers’ Market life cycle work.
  • $170,000 budgeted in 2013 for the Farmers’ Market life cycle work.
  • $50,000 from the accessibility capital budget.
  • $340,000 from the West End Community Centre dehumidification project.

With regard to long term planning, the Downtown Secondary Plan (currently still under appeal) does anticipate a Farmers’ Market Expansion and/or Relocation Strategy. There are many necessary planning steps required to move forward on this strategy and it will need to be considered as part of our 10 Year long-term capital budget.

Please let me know if you need any further information and Mario Petricevic, General Manager of Corporate Building Maintenance is available if you have any specific questions about the Farmers Market Renovation project.

Best regards,

Ann Pappert | Chief Administrative Officer

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