New Quebec City farmers market aims to be 'most beautiful in North America'

Quebec City is hoping a new farmers market will rival the best on the continent.

New space will be 3 times the size of the current market at the Old Port

Architectural rendering of interior of new market building which will be built at ExpoCité in the Limoilou area of Quebec City. (LEMAYMICHAUD Architecture)

Quebec City has a new arena, and soon it will have a brand new farmers market beside it. The announcement was made this week by Mayor Régis Labeaume and the current organization that runs le Marché du Vieux Port — the farmers market at the Old Port.

The Pavillion du commerce building will be renovated and expanded to allow the farmers market to move in by the spring of 2018. It will include 20 permanent kiosks, about 100 stalls for seasonal food growers and 30 boutique spaces offering various products including prepared food. The design includes terraces and play centres for children outside the building.

"It will be a hit," Labeaume said. He also noted that natural light has to be a key feature of the new market. The architectural plans include a glass roof. The working title of the new market is "le Grand Marché."

Arthur Cauchon, president of the Coopérative des horticulteurs de Québec, the organization that oversees the Marché du Vieux Port, said the new facility will rival the best markets on the continent.

"We're aiming to be the most beautiful market in North America," Cauchon said. 

The price tag is estimated to be between $20 million and $23 million, but the contract has not yet been awarded. 

A glass roof that allows natural light to pour into the building is one of the features in the current design for the new farmers market building in Quebec City. (LEMAYMICHAUD Architecture)

Some merchants upset with move

Daniel Tremblay, general manager of the market, said they hope the new location in the Limoilou neighbourhood will attract more people from the suburbs. He said the extra parking space is another bonus for customers and merchants.

"The big majority of our producers are with us, and they're surely going to move to the new place," Tremblay said.

But he noted that the move to Limoilou, away from the tourist track downtown and Old Quebec, is hard for some people to accept.

Marcel Bergeron, a maple syrup vendor at the market, isn't on board with the move.

"I find it idiotic because in every country in the world the market is in the downtown," he said. 

Jean Rousseau, head of a citizens group in Old Quebec and also head of a coalition pushing to keep the market in the Old Port open, said the current location is great for tourists, people who take the ferry from Lévis and those living in Old Quebec.

"The farmers market is one of the attractions that tourists adore, so we believe there is room for a market here."

​Tremblay said the city may consider keeping a smaller satellite market space in Old Quebec. He said the city is also thinking of ways to help tourists get to the new market, because he believes visitors will want to make it part of their plans.

Exterior image of new building for future farmers market building in Quebec City to be built by 2018. (LEMAYMICHAUD Architecture)

with files from Radio-Canada and Glenn Wanamaker