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Committee approves new vision for Farmers' Market Building


The Farmers' Market Building at River Landing is a step closer to reopening.

Members of council's development committee unanimously approved a proposed lease offer from Ideas. Inc. Monday.

The once bustling building at the corner of Avenue A and 19th Street will see renewed life again next Spring if council approves the lease agreement at its full meeting later in the month. 

 “It’s something that Saskatoon is missing and it will be well received by patrons,” Tanner Michalenko, community manager with Ideas Inc. told CTV News.

Ideas Inc. will fulfill requirements for the soon to be renovated space based on the city's stipulations.

“We’re going to operate six days a week at this location here and within that we’ll have two dedicated farmers market days in season,” Michalenko said.

Called Gather Local Market, the collection of 16 partitioned stalls will be available to local vendors at the centre of the building. Eight local restaurants and six craft brewers and distillers will also be part of the new building. Locally sourced grocery products and artisans selling their wares is also part of the plan.

It’s a positive step forward, according to the executive director of the Riversdale Business Improvement District.

 “It’s been a long time coming and the proven success has been demonstrated the investment into Riversdale and 20th Street (and) The Banks across the street here,” Randy Pshebylo told CTV News.

The Banks housing development was was built in 2014 and the selling feature according to Pshebylo was the farmers' market across the street, but vacancy rates dropped when the market closed in 2020 after the Saskatoon Farmers' Market Co-operative Ltd and the city's relationship soured when the co-operative was unable to commit to animating the area for six days a week. 

The city issued a request for proposals in 2018 to find a permanent tenant, then cited much-needed repairs to the aging former electrical garage roof as the reason for withdrawing the request for proposals.

Repairs were slated to begin in January 2020 and expected to take at least three months to complete. After COVID-19 uncertainty stalled any progress, demolition and construction work began in June 2020.

The hope is vacancy rate problems won't be a problem any longer with Ideas' commitment. 

“No one’s an island here including this farmers' market, and we all need each other,” Pshebylo said.

About 10 vendors have approached Ideas Inc. so far wanting to join the project.

 “I just think it’s so unique and so different from what we’ve seen before and something we’ve never been involved in before and we’re looking forward to the opportunity,” Liam McKercher, general manager of Crossmount Cider Company told CTV News.

Crossmount is one of those businesses that will add to the thirty vendors that will call this building home.

“This is something we’re really committed to and it’s something that we think will be a really good aspect to add to our city,” he said.

The farmers market component will operate mainly outside in Market Square twice a week between May and October, and a night market is also part of the plan.

Ideas would pay $10 per year for five years and would take on utilities, cleaning, snow clearing and other costs, as part of the proposed lease. 

The city could lose a little over $50,000 in potential revenue over the course of the five-year lease. 

Administration is also recommending the city contribute $150,000, to purchase furnishings for the common areas, with 50 per cent coming from the reserve budget for capital expenditures and 50 per cent from Ideas Inc.

Gather is scheduled to open in May 2023. Top Stories

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