Gore Bay market proposal receives support

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GORE BAY—If Gore Bay businesses are as much in support of a weekly market returning to Gore Bay (in the form of an artisan market, which will allow all types of vendors to take part) as members of the town’s general government committee, it will go ahead this summer. This concept was brought forward by three local residents at a meeting last week, to have the market held in the downtown area. 

“This would be good for the whole town, and local businesses,” stated Gore Bay Mayor Dan Osborne.

Jeff Hietkamp, along with Ashley Whyte and Carrie Lewis, made a presentation to the committee at a meeting. “Ashley, Carrie and I got together to talk about the farmers’ market. We feel the market is a real draw to have in town,” said Mr. Hietkamp. “We really want to have the market back and would be interested in helping to manage it.” 

The artisan market proposal would see the market being held on Friday mornings in the months of July and August, on Meredith Street (the main business street), said Mr.  Hietkamp. The proponents are suggesting the street could be closed off from the post office to the town parking lot area, to allow for vendors to be set up and for visitors to travel by foot. The market could operate from 9 am. to 12 noon.

“Having the market on the main street will help the vendors and hopefully benefit the local businesses,” said Mr. Hietkamp. “We know there were concerns raised with the previous market that the market (which was held near the red roof pavilion area) was taking lots of business out of the downtown area.”

The market vendors would be set up on the street from the post office to the town parking lot area.   “And perhaps we would be able to use the community hall basement, similar to what the café did at the red roof building when the market was held on the waterfront,” said Mr. Hietkamp.

“We have checked out the market held in Kagawong,” said Mr. Hietkamp. “It bugs me that they have so many people at their market and we don’t even have a market,” he said. He pointed out the Kagawong market is held on Wednesdays (during the summer) in the village and draws 50-plus vendors each week. And vendors don’t have to sign contracts or a lease; vendors pay $10 per week for space.

“We feel that drawing people into Gore Bay is a win-win, especially if it’s held in the downtown area,” continued Mr. Hietkamp.

“Gore Bay is off the path a little for visitors, so the market has to basically be a destination place, it isn’t like Kagawong where people drive through the village on the highway to get to the market,” said Ms. Lewis.

Mr. Hietkamp said in terms of insurance being required, that possibly the town could extend coverage of their insurance for the market. “If council is interested in the idea, we will approach each business (in town) and each individual vendor to inform them what our proposal is.”

“We just think this could be a real good thing for the town,” said Mr. Hietkamp.

Committee member Ron Lane asked what day the group is looking at for the market, and if it may interfere with the date of other markets on the Island.

Mr. Hietkamp said the group is looking to have the market held Friday mornings and said that there are no other markets held on the Island on Fridays.

The parking lot could be used by vendors and customers, along with other visitors. 

“By having the market on the main street in town, we want to bring everyone together in one location,” said Mr. Hietkamp. 

“We are trying to get people out of their vehicles to walk and shop in the downtown area,” said Ms. Lewis.

The market would run for eight weeks, during the months of July and August.

“It would be great to have the market back,” agreed Mr. Lane.

The meeting was told that with the farmers’ market under Farmers’ Market Association of Ontario guidelines, “our hands were tied,” in that at least 51 percent of the vendors had to provide produce. “We were thinking that this would be an artisan market to include much more than produce,” said Ms. Whyte.

The promoters acknowledged there are still a lot of details that have to be worked out. 

Mayor Osborne noted that vendors’ booths have been set up in the downtown area of town for events like Canada Day, Harbour Days and the 125th anniversary celebration of the town “and the atmosphere has been fantastic.” 

Councillor Leeanne Woestenenk said she would like to know how businesses on Meredith Street feel about the market being held downtown.

“I would commend this group for coming forward with this proposal and I fully support it,” stated Councillor Jack Clark. “I’m just wondering who would be the administrator and who would collect the $10 from each vendor on a weekly basis? And we would need to know if there are any expectations of the town to provide tables and garbage bins, for example. But these are all minor things. I think this is a tremendous idea and would love to see it happen.” 

“I hope that the market goes ahead,” said Councillor Kevin Woestenenk. He did raise a concern that downtown businesses pay taxes on their property locations and said that they need to be consulted to see if they are in favour of the weekly market taking place downtown.  

Mr. Hietkamp said the group plans to discuss the proposal with all businesses on Meredith Street. 

“Everyone needs to be included in the decision,” said Ms. Whyte.

It was agreed a memorandum of understanding would be drafted by the group to present to the committee and be reviewed by the town. 

“As council, we have to make decisions for the best of the whole town. Unless there is a groundswell in opposition to the proposal, we should go ahead,” said Councillor Clark.

Mr. Hietkamp said the group can meet with the general government committee at its next meeting and provide a proposed draft memorandum of understanding with details after having talked to all the local businesses and market vendors.

“I’m excited about this proposal,” said Mr.  Hietkmap. “The previous farmers’ market folded, but we feel there is a need for a market in town.” 

“It would be great to have the market back,” added Mr. Lane