Lacombe’s Farmers’ Market will be held in a new location this season.
After concerns about safety at the Market’s usual location in Michener Park, the Lacombe Farmers’ Market Committee has decided to move it to the arena parking lot, closer to the centre of the City. However, Lacombe Farmers’ Market Manager Kit Glimm said she and the committee are not happy about the move.
“That was an ideal location for us,” said Glimm, speaking of the Michener Park location. “I’m hoping that it’s not going to be permanent.”
The City of Lacombe, which owns the land used by the Market in the past at Michener Park, is requiring the Market to move because of site prep work being done in the same area to facilitate a possible new hotel coming to Lacombe. City of Lacombe Director of Infrastructure Matthew Goudy said that workers will be moving a lot of dirt and fill around the site at the same time that the Market would be taking place and a lot of heavy truck traffic would be in the area.
Not only would this make it logistically difficult to manage traffic from both sites, it wouldn’t be safe for shoppers or vendors at the Market.
“Given the amount of vehicles that will be coming and going, especially heavy construction vehicles, we don’t think it would be safe to have a farmers’ market going on essentially in the middle of a construction zone,” said Goudy.
After informing the committee the Farmers’ Market would not be able to take place at Michener Park this year, the City provided the Market with two alternative options. Glimm said the committee decided to hold the Market at the arena parking lot as opposed to the alternate location, the Lacombe Memorial Centre parking lot, because she believes the arena location offers more space.
“It’s the better of the two locations they have given us.”
While safety is the biggest reason that the Market will not be at Michener Park this year, Glimm said the City has been trying to get the Market to move downtown since 2012, strongly encouraging the Farmers’ Market to be set up at the LMC.
“They want to revitalize that downtown,” said Glimm.
Guy Lapointe, community and economic development manager for the City of Lacombe, said there are indeed many possible benefits to the Market moving nearer the centre of the City. He said the increased foot-traffic downtown could see more shoppers coming to the Market and the other business in the centre of the City may see increased traffic as a spinoff from the markets as well.
Lapointe and Goudy went on to say that, while many markets on the outskirts of cities (like the Lacombe market) have been very successful, there are also several examples of highly successful markets in downtown cores as well in locations like Edmonton and Saskatoon.
“Communities that have vibrant farmers’ markets, they are happening downtown,” said Goudy.
As it is necessary for the market to be relocated for at least this season anyway because of safety concerns, Goudy and Lapointe both said it should serve as a convenient opportunity to test out whether or not the Market truly does work and if these benefits are worth relocating it.
Glimm said she would not be against moving downtown if there was a location that could accommodate the semi-trucks, cube vans and other large vehicles that come in for the Market. However, she also said she is not willing to work with the City on finding or developing a more amicable solution because she does not believe such a site exists.
Glimm said that she is upset the Market could not be held at least until the end of May at the Michener Park location, as she had previously hoped, because there has already been advertising for the Market at that location done.
She also said she is afraid she will lose vendors because of the change to what she said is a less-than-desirable venue without enough space.
Goudy said the City knows that there will in fact be enough space for the Market at the alternate locations because of detailed mapping and knowledge of the areas.
Lapointe added that the Market is welcome to use a private location if they desire or come to the City with another alternate location should they find one more suitable.