Laurentian offers ‘win-win’ solution to market dilemma

During a public meeting held Monday, Sudburians repeatedly asked city council to give them a downtown that has both a farmer's market and an architecture school. Laurentian University appears to have made that decision easier by putting $3 million on the table.

University says it will pay the city about $1 million for Market Square and will throw in another $2 million to find the market a new home

A final staff report will be made to Greater Sudbury council at its regular meeting of October 12. It is anticipated that council will make a decision on Laurentian University’s proposal this fall. (CBC)

Sudburians told city council last night they want a downtown that includes both the farmer's market and the architecture school.

And Laurentian University has put $3 million on the table to help make that happen.

The university said it will pay the city about $1 million for Market Square and will throw in another $2 million for finding the market a new home, even if it’s on the same Elgin Street property.

That announcement threw off many who came forward to speak at last night's final public input session about the location of the new architecture school, held at Tom Davies Square.

Market Square key facts:

Owned and operated by the City of Greater Sudbury and is staffed by a Market Manager and a Market Officer

Employs 160 part time seasonal employees

1 of 160 markets active in the province of Ontario this year

37 vendors that generated approximately $300,000 in sales revenue

22,000 patrons in 2011

Total average annual economic impact is estimated at $2 million

"I had this wonderful five minute speech I was going to give, but I don't think it's necessary now," said Ray Zemaitaitis, a market vendor.

Downtown Business Improvement Area chair Jeff McIntyre added: "I don't think you're ever going to see a win-win like this. This is an amazing, amazing opportunity. I think the decision is very easy now."

Laurentian University also said it's open to sharing the downtown property with the market.

Councillors debate proposal

But some city councillors said they need more details about that before signing off on the sale. Ward 6 Coun. Andre Rivest asked if $3 million would be enough.

"The entire cost (of relocating Market Square) should be borne by Laurentian University and it should not be put on the taxpayers," Rivest said.

Others councillors, such as Ward 9 Coun. Doug Craig, were taken with the university's offer.

"We want our cake and we want to eat it too. We want the school downtown and we don't want to lose Market Square."

"This was a very positive meeting; it was a fantastic opportunity to hear from our constituents – including vendors – on this important issue," said Mayor Marianne Matichuk in a city press release. "We’re well on our way to achieving a win-win solution for everyone."

Laurentian said if a decision isn't made by the end of the month the cost of the project will go up. As a result, the first architecture classes would likely be held on the South End campus, rather than downtown.

The city has affirmed Market Square will finish this year at its current downtown location. If Laurentian University’s proposal is accepted, the Market will not close, but rather will be relocated. Several potential relocation options for the Market have been developed.

Greater Sudbury City Council is set to discuss the Market Square again next week.