The city is looking to hold a splashy relaunch of Hamilton's downtown farmers market this spring to improve public perception and encourage people to shop there.

The ideal time for the event would be around March 1, said John Hertel, the city’s director of finance, administration and revenue generation. 

Much of the discussion in recent months has focused on what’s wrong with the market. But many of those complaints will have changed by then, Hertel said.

“It gives us a whole new level of energy to present to the public to say ‘Come on out and try us again,’” Hertel told the city’s farmers market subcommittee on Thursday.

The market has been on the city's radar since stallholders recently told councillors that the market is in crisis.

It needs free parking and a better governance model to boost customers and prevent more vendors from leaving, said Shane Coleman, president of the stallholders association.

Hertel has recommended the city spend $55,000 to $75,000 to hire a consulting firm – either PPS or Evergreen consultants – to help usher the market into its new era. The firm would develop a structure and terms of reference for a new board that would include the city, vendors and members of the public.

Hertel is set to come back to councillors with exactly what the consultant work would entail, and quotes from the two firms soon.

Other identified issues are moving quickly. The city will launch an interim validated parking program at the York Street Parkade in March that will run until June. 

Staff has also obtained three quotes and options for a sign, and will come back to the subcommittee with a preferred option. 

Other issues:

  • The city hopes to extend the wireless internet access from the Hamilton Public Library to the market so vendors can offer debit and credit card service. It expects to have a plan in place by Jan. 24.
  • The city is talking to cell phone service providers to improve the access in the market. It hopes to have a plan by Jan. 24.
  • It's also exploring a pickup or delivery service and a way to better serve new Canadians who speak little English.
  • The city is interviewing market vendors about making the hours of operation more consistent.