PEI

Charlottetown Farmers' Market renovations aim to improve efficiency, accessibility

Officials with the Charlottetown Farmers' Market say the building is in for some big upgrades that they hope will help the market keep up with growing business.

Work to begin as early as next month

The renovation project is expected to cost just over $400,000, with most of the funding coming from the federal and provincial governments. (Shane Ross/CBC)

Officials with the Charlottetown Farmers' Market say the building is in for some big upgrades that they hope will help the market keep up with growing business.

Renovations have been long overdue, according to the co-op that manages the market. The group said plans to upgrade have been in the works for about two years. 

Updates to the building will aim to make it more efficient and accessible, said Bernie Plourde, manager of the market's co-op. 

"What we'll do is an infrastructure upgrade of the market, we need to get some new electricity, some new plumbing," Plourde said. 

"We'll renovate the washrooms and depending on the quotes and the tenders that come back to us, we may be putting in a community kitchen as well."

The co-op will also be contributing $40,000 to the project, says Bernie Plourde, who manages the group. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Plourde said the proposed community kitchen could also be rented out for special events and possibly used by food vendors as a space to prepare their products on-site.

There are also plans to update the building's heating and ventilation systems, which would improve the air quality and make it safer and more comfortable to cook inside the building, he said.

'New exciting stage'

Brett Bunston has been selling coffee at the Caledonia Coffee House stall for the past 30 years. He said this will be the biggest renovation he's seen during his time at the market and he's optimistic the upgrades will only help his business grow. 

"We're about to embark on a new exciting stage in the market's history, these renovations are so badly needed," Bunston said.

"As we get more professional with our businesses it's nice if the whole thing gets an upgrade." 

'We're just elated to see that we're able to do some infrastructure upgrades to make it a more pleasing place,' Plourde says. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

Plourde said the renovations are expected to start as early as next month, with the goal of being complete by June.

He said the plan is to have all the work done over the winter months, so the impact to vendors and market goers is as minimal as possible. 

"We're just elated to see that we're able to do some infrastructure upgrades to make it a more pleasing place," Plourde said. 

"People gather round and we talk politics, religion, we meet our neighbours, it's just — it's a great place." 

Brett Bunston says he's hopeful the upgrades to the building will only help his business grow. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

The project is expected to cost just over $400,000, with most of the funding coming from the federal and provincial governments.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is providing $271,250 toward the renovations, and the province is contributing $100,000. 

The co-op will be putting $40,000 to the project, Plourde said.

"I think it goes to the success of this organization and what they've turned it into. You know, it's great that it's growing," said Minister of Communities Jamie Fox. 

"As a government we want to make sure that we fund projects that are sustainable and have a long-lasting effect." 

Updates to the building will aim to make the market more efficient and accessible. (Brittany Spencer/CBC)

The co-op still leases the land the market sits on, Plourde said. The lease is on a month-to-month basis from the federal government.

Plourde said the group does eventually want to expand the building, but has to wait while consultation takes place between the federal government and the Island's Mi'kmaq community about the land.

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