After a lively and, at times, emotional debate, Town Council rejected a proposal to increase the Golden Farmers’ Market (GFM) fees at its June 10 meeting, preferring to further discuss its options for the market later this year.
The proposal to increase the market’s fees to $3.50 per parking stall per day (the current fee for downtown sidewalk cafes) was brought forward by Coun. Keith Hern after the inequality between the market and restaurants was brought to his attention.
“I think it behooves the council to create an even playing field for all businesses in town,” said Coun. Hern.
Coun. Ron Oszust agreed with Coun. Hern’s assessment that an even playing field needed to be created, but preferred a different approach that drew cheers and applause from the many farmers’ market organizers and vendors in attendance.
“I think we’ve been approaching this, from my perspective, the wrong way,” said Coun. Oszust. “Let’s not crank (up the fees), let’s crank it down and reduce the fee structure.”
Coun. Oszust proposed the fees for sidewalk cafes be brought down to $1.25 per stall per day, a reduction of approximately 65 per cent, and that this sum be the same for farmers’ market vendors as well. According to Oszust, the Town would lose about $7,000 per year with the reduced fees, but he justified that by saying the sidewalk cafes and the farmers’ market creates a good vibe and atmosphere downtown.
Coun. Mike Pecora raised his concern that reducing fees would create parking issues downtown, while wondering if the farmers’ market would be in favour of moving its Wednesday market to Spirit Square.
“If we’re going to open up the fees where everybody can take up a parking spot there’s not going to be any parking downtown and everybody is going to have to park in the CPR parking lot,” said Pecora.
In the past, the GFM has rejected the idea of moving the market to Spirit Square and one attendee made it very clear what the farmers’ market wants from the Town.
“What the farmers’ market really wants is to be left alone,” he said. “Just let us go about our business, we will contribute to the community, we will work with other people and do the best that we can to promote this community and promote business.”
The adoption of the proposed fee increase was moved and seconded, but only Coun. Hern voted in support of it. Later, Coun. Oszust put forward his proposal for fees to be set at $1.25 for both sidewalk cafes and the farmers’ market, but it died when he failed to find a seconder for the motion.
Instead, council agreed to further the discussion between all parties in the fall in order to reach a decision for next summer.