Hamilton city councillors are debating the future of Hamilton's Farmers Market Thursday. Vendors say the market is in a crisis and city hall is looking at a new models for operation. Follow the debate live below.
CBC Hamilton took a tour of the market earlier this week.
On a late Tuesday morning at the Hamilton Farmer's Market, a small but steady stream of people shop for fresh bread, some oregano, or just some cookies and coffee.
Ian Walker, a salesman for De La Terre Bakery, has a great view of just who is visiting the market. His booth is right next to the sliding glass doors that open onto York Blvd. — one of the most obvious, modern features of the market's $9 million makeover funded by the city.
"Our business is doing really well," Walker said, adding while he has no statistics to back it up, he thinks more people are starting to come back to the market.
"We've only seen positive growth since we've been here. Our sales have gone up every year."
That's not the case everywhere in the market. Vendors complain the new market's aisles are cramped, it's poorly organized (florists, for example, are scattered throughout instead of next to one another) and it's just not as inviting as it used to be. Still, stallholders are optimistic the market will rebound.
Shoppers Art and Joyce Mitchell used to shop at the market almost every Saturday, but they've been coming less since the renovations. For Art, the market just isn't what it used to be, and he says it's hard to get back into the habit of coming down. For Joyce, the biggest problem is that there's no free parking.
"Nobody wants to come to the market and pay for parking," she said.
Shane Coleman, who runs the Dilly's booth and is also the stallholders association, said market is lobbying to get free, or validated, parking back. He said vendors also want more of a say in the way it's governed. Despite the challenges, most of which he blames on the city, Coleman said the market has a bright future.
"We can see that downtown Hamilton is now revitalizing itself, and the market's got to be one of the essential ingredients," he said.
In the above video you'll hear the voices of Coleman, shoppers Jackie, Art and Joyce, and De La Terre's salesman Walker, along with the CBC's John Rieti.