Hamilton Farmer’s Market vendors were at City Council’s General Issue’s Committee Wednesday to beg the city to fix problems created by a multi-million dollar renovation that took place from 2009 to 2011.
This is the Farmer’s Market today. People don’t know where to go in, where to park, or what the hours are, and the vendors say their businesses have been devestated by the renovation.
It was a six-million dollar renovation but councillors established Wednesday that the total cost was closer to nine million. And the farmer’s market needs taxpayer subsidies to survive at this point. About 200 thousand dollars a year. But vendors say they could easily forgo that public money if they had some input on how the Farmer’s Market was run.
One of the presenters was Ron Jepson of Jepson’s Fresh Meats. He bought the business from his father who bought it from his grandfather. He says he has never seen business this bad: “We had an open air market, they turned it into non-open market. That hurts. They took the front of the building and turned it into a glass shell that shows nothing. So it has no street appearance. That hurts. They took away free parking for our customers just before we re-opened. Which was crucial. It hurts a lot. There’s a lot of things that hurt. And you say market owners are now struggling? Struggling bad. Very bad.
Jepson feels council did listen to him and he was happily surprised to walk away with a motion on the table. One that would bring back free parking, signage, and keep vendor leases the same, no cost increase. That motion will go before council next week. Also next week, a subcommittee will look at a new management board for the market that would include vendors, councillors, and community members.