Peterborough city council to receive update on Saturday farmers market

A report recommending that city council extend the agreement licence of the Peterborough and District Farmers Market for one more year will be tabled at city hall on Monday night.

This report will be followed by city council opening up the bidding process to give a new group the opportunity to step forward and run the longstanding market, which takes place each Saturday at the Morrow Building and Peterborough Memorial Centre parking lot.

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The report, written by commissioner of community services Allan Seabrooke, recommends council extend the current licence agreement with the board of the Saturday farmers market for one more year. The report also suggests opening a public consultation process in the meantime to engage the community about what kind of market residents would want to see while studying other successful markets across the province.

Town Ward Coun. Dean Pappas says this is a move in the right direction.

“No organization should be afraid of an RFP process,” said Pappas. “If you’re running a business on city property and the city wants to do an RFP, then you shouldn’t have anything to be afraid of. You just go in and bid, and if you’re the best bidder then you’re going to get the contract.”

Last year saw the emergence of a rival market, as the Peterborough Regional Farmers Network created a new Saturday market in downtown Peterborough. This all stemmed from a fallout after seven vendors were evicted from the Peterborough and District Farmers Market after 16 other vendors complained to the market board about  disruptive behaviour.

The Peterborough and District Farmers Market Association has been operating the market at Morrow Park since 1984, and according to the staff report, it has been a tenant in good standing. The report also says the city will receive more than $60,000 in rent from the market for the 2018 season.

But what’s not in the report is the terms of reference for the market moving forward and what expectations and guidelines will be used to govern the successful candidates who are selected to run the market.

Pappas says it will be up to council to get that information ironed out well in advance of the RFP process.

“There will be a report, and we’ll discuss the terms of reference and there will be an opportunity to see what the public wants to see in a local farmers market,” he said. “And as far as what will those terms of reference be, all that will be part of the ongoing process.”

Ashburnham Coun. Keith Riel agrees that the city has to be very specific in its terms of reference so there’s little room for any kind of misunderstanding as far as expectations are concerned.

“We want a very specific set of guidelines on how we’re going to run a farmers market here in the city of Peterborough,” said Riel. “And if it’s going to be a local market then that’s fine, and if it’s going to be a regional one with food from all across Ontario then that’s a different ball game.”

Seabrooke will present the report at Monday night’s general committee meeting.

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