Is the Hamilton Farmers’ Market worth saving (again)?

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Published January 20, 2022 at 11:46 am

2022 year will mark the 185th anniversary of the Hamilton Farmers' Market. (inTheHammer photo)

This year will mark the 185th anniversary of the Hamilton Farmers’ Market.

How does it fit into the evolving downtown redevelopment and what is its vision within the city’s future? That’s what Hamilton’s mayor was wondering during Thursday’s (Jan. 18) general issues meeting. Fred Eisenberger said he plans to bring a motion to council next month that will re-examine the market’s future… again.

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At Thursday’s meeting the farmers’ market chair, Elly Bowen asked council for additional funding for 2022. Council had agreed to increase the funding for all boards and agencies by 2 per cent this year, however, the Hamilton Farmers’ Market market is asking for an increase of 48 per cent. That would raise the overall funding from $115,000 to $242,000.

The market took some big financial hits in 2021. Most notably, Meridian Credit Union did not renew its $125,000 corporate sponsorship.

Additionally, market reps say garbage collection costs will be increased by $27,000 compared to the previous year.

There is also an ongoing need to invest in marketing as traffic continues to be impacted by COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, the farmers’ market could expect anywhere from 15,000 to 25,000 visitors each week, depending on the month. In 2021, however, the number dipped to between 5,000 and 10,000. So the market wants to increase its marketing expenses by $26,000 in 2022.

Is the Hamilton Farmers' Market worth saving (again)?

Provided by Hamilton Farmers’ Market

The market wants to charge vendors a minimum of $50,000 to set up shop for the year, but it will be a hard sell if foot traffic doesn’t return to its pre-pandemic rate.

Hamilton City Council will, again, have to decide whether the market is worth saving under its current operational framework. The downtown core will look very different in the coming years and council will have to decide (again) if the Hamilton Farmers’ Market will be part of it.

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