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Saskatoon city councillors to mull five-year farmers’ market lease

Saskatoon City Hall

A year after first entering negotiations to find a permanent tenant for the Farmers’ Market Building in Riversdale, city council is set to enter a lease agreement with a local business service company.

Last August, Ideas Inc., the anchor tenant for half of the property along Avenue B South, was revealed as the company selected to operate a public market.

"Our vision for this space draws inspiration from national and international facilities that have become landmarks for their respective cities," Ideas Inc. executive director Depesh Parmar said in a release at the time.

“We are inspired by their ability to create a vibrant, animated space for local communities, and a dynamic and diverse destination where patrons can enjoy everything local from produce and artisan goods to locally produced food and beverage."

Administration is recommending the standing policy committee on planning, development and community services enter a five-year lease with Ideas Inc. to operate the property 414 Avenue B South.

The building has undergone a lengthy process to find a tenant willing to meet the city’s requirement of keeping the area animated for six days a week.

City administration and council began voicing those concerns in 2018 when the farmers' market operated three days a week. The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market Co-operative Ltd. managed the site for 12 years before relocating to a building near the airport in 2020 once its lease expired.

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

More than two years later, the city is set to formally begin a new era for the historic property.

The next steps include completing detailed design drawings and issuing a construction tender and awarding and undertaking renovation work.

The approval report before the committee says the lease will begin when the interior building renovations have been completed by the city.

A five-year tax exemption estimated at $53,162 is included in the agreement. 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.

Ideas Inc. currently manages the outdoor street stalls on Saturdays outside the building and a seasonal outdoor farmers’ market. Top Stories

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