Sackville Farmers Market renews its appeal for ‘permanent home’ in town-owned building

Kent Coates, Chair of Sackville Farmers Market. Photo from SFM website

The Sackville Farmers Market renewed its call Monday for help in building a permanent, indoor location, but once again met with a lukewarm response from town council.

“The market feels…that the lack of a permanent location is our most significant hurdle to growing the market and providing consistent service to customers and vendors,” Kent Coates, chair of the market’s board told council.

He repeated the call he made a year ago for a 7,000 sq. ft., town-owned building that would cost just over $1 million. The town would lease it to the Farmers Market which would be responsible for operating costs and day-to-day management.

Coates said the building could house the market as well as community organizations like the food bank, local theatres and recreation groups such as yoga and dance as well as music festivals and concerts.

“What we’re really asking is to have a commitment to have a Working Group stand up to make this happen,” Coates said, adding that as a non-profit organization, the market could raise money from the community as well as various other sources such as the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the New Brunswick government.

When Councillor Andrew Black asked where a permanent building would be located, Coates said it could be at two possible downtown sites: in the area around the tennis courts adjacent to Bill Johnstone Memorial Park or on the Gordon Beal-owned property next to the Painted Pony restaurant at Bridge Street and Weldon.

Councillor Bill Evans said that while he understands the importance of the Farmers Market to the quality of life in Sackville, the town would need to take on a capital project on a scale similar to the Civic Centre.

“I’m saying yes with my heart,” Evans said, “but my head is saying we have to be practical and reasonable here.”

He then asked about what he called “the elephant in the room” — the proposal council heard last month from Garth Zwicker for a market on land leased from the town beside the Visitor Information Centre on Mallard Drive.

Coates replied that, although he didn’t know all the details of the Zwicker proposal, it seemed to be only about creating one job and building a facility without any long-term plan.

He said that the current Farmer’s Market has been operating for decades.

“We’re in this for the long haul and we will operate the market,” he added.

“We’re not going to create a space that in two or three years when things change, is going to be empty.”

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8 Responses to Sackville Farmers Market renews its appeal for ‘permanent home’ in town-owned building

  1. CHRISTIAN Corbet says:

    Councilor Bill Evans made the poor judgment to refer to Garth Zwicker’s proposal as an “elephant in the room”. This is not the job of a Councilor to refer to citizens as such and Mr. Evans should apologize. Further the Deputy Mayor should have also called Mr. Evans out on such poor behavior. If anyone wishes to hear it for themselves visit YouTube and search for Sackville March 1, 2021.

  2. marilyn says:

    Ask food producers, ask farmers what they would like to see in Sackville; they want a permanent building which would attract more sellers and more consumers given access to locally produced food. It is disappointing that after all this time, the town council is still “cool” to the idea. So maybe we citizens need to get behind an effort to spend our money on food security which is going to be a major issue in the years to come.

  3. Carol Cooke says:

    I applaud Mr. Garth Zwicker for his efforts to put together a proposal to situate a covered Sackville Farmers’ Market on the edge of town. I’m just really concerned with his choice of location which he feels should be beside the Visitors’ Information Centre near the highway exit. IMHO, we should build a permanent covered space in downtown Sackville. We need to encourage people to park their cars and walk around our town as opposed to grabbing a few groceries and getting back on the Trans Canada in their cars. I agree with Kent Coates and his suggestion of two possible “downtown” locations.

    I think that “our” market should first of all serve the needs of Sackville residents and then if people from other communities are drawn in as well, all the better!

    Is it possible Mr. Zwicker could be asked to the table/proposed Working Group, so that we could all work together for a better space for our beloved market?

  4. A downtown building for the farmer’s market that could be purposed for theatre, meditation, yoga and other classes, events and concerts wold be a wonderful and necessary, in my view, development in Sackville. A downtown location with decent parking would make it viable over the long haul. It would house the direction that Sackville is already going in. We need to make it happen!!

  5. About 15 years ago I proposed to build such a structure. We secured the donation of the parking lot at Main/Allison from Arthur Irving, as well as a tax rebate from the Town. We raised about $350,000 in total. We also had verbal agreement from ACOA, but when we presented our plan and funding to them, the rules had changed. The project never advanced.

    These types of ventures need a lot of coordination and cooperation. All three levels of government have to be in favour. A lot of citizens have to show their support as well.

    I learned a lot during the years I worked on this proposal (twice).

    First, such a building must be located close to the downtown core in order to get enough use.

    Provincial and federal governments will not support a project that is not the Town’s priority.

    Money talks. Everyone wants to know who is putting in how much money.

    Having a highly visible champion, such as an ex-Lieutenant Governor, would help a lot.

  6. W says:

    We need businesses and non-profits in the area to be creative, self-sufficient and figure out their own solutions without running to the taxpayers every time. Rent/borrow a facility for an afternoon or get a bunch of farmers/companies/investors to pitch in and fund it yourself. We don’t need to fund and fill another new building (don’t get me started on the town hall building). Property taxes are already insanely high.

  7. Carol says:

    In response to (leave us your name next time?) « W »’s idea, why not try to rent out the Quonset bldg on the Gordon Beal-owned property next to the Painted Pony restaurant at Bridge Street and Weldon? It might come with its own, presently unused, parking lot.

    I can see it now: people would shop at the market, go for a walk st the SWFP, and then head back to the downtown to the restaurants and other businesses!

    • Kata List Productions says:

      Mr. Beal’s property? that is his storage shed.. what are you suggesting? He empty out his stuff so he could rent out the hut to a random bunch of people on weekends? Odd idea

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