(Today’s Northumberland file photo)
By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
The Cobourg Farmers Market has undergone big changes in recent years, and the Cobourg Farmers Market Association sent a delegation to council’s committee-of-the-whole meeting Monday to ask for some adjustments to reflect some of the new realities.
For more than 150 years, the weekly Farmers Markets have drawn hundreds of visitors to support local growers, producers and artisans. In recent years, they have sort of crossed Albert Street, with the market shifting locations from the Market Building parking lot to the Rotary Harbourfront Park.
The association president said that there have been trade-offs for this beautiful setting just steps from the harbour and the expanded space.
This location is adjacent to a parking lot, which is a vital consideration for vendors who must unload, set up, replenish their displays then pack up again. Last year, however, signed contracts with the town allowing their use of the lot for parking were changed abruptly with no negotiation.
Their move also meant loss of space in the Market Building for things like signage, canopies and tables they make available to charities and community organizations. These things are now stored in the Market Manager’s car.
As well, the annual agreements they sign with the town for the use of the space have fees that change annually, making their budgeting a challenge.
Their request was threefold – a five-year agreement with the town with established fees, parking spaces for their vendors and storage space for their equipment.
Their 2022 rent was $5,000. Councillor Adam Bureau made a motion that a five-year agreement be drafted at $3,500 per year, and that the agreement include 40 parking passes as well as 20 day passes for their volunteers, good at the Albert Street and Second Street lots.
“It’s a big tourism destination, and I know it provides hustle and bustle every Saturday morning for all of downtown, and it does help local farmers and artisans present their wares,” Bureau pointed out.
Mayor Lucas Cleveland pointed out that the value of those parking passes would be about $2,400 a week. And you would have to multiply this by the number of weeks the market is open from May to December, he added, to get the complete picture.
Councillor Brian Darling pointed out that staff have very competently negotiated with the association for years, and made an amendment that the details of any agreement be left in their hands. Council approved his amendment to direct staff to negotiate a five-year lease, to be brought back to council for consideration and approval April 3.
As for storage space, councillors supported efforts to find a replacement for the space that was lost at the Market Building. Councillor Aaron Burchat noted that the bus shelter on-site, which is no longer left unlocked when unattended, may potentially be reconfigured – if so, he said, perhaps some opportunity may be found at this site.