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Saskatoon Farmers’ Market Co-op votes for new location

Saskatoon Farmers’ Market Co-op votes for new location
The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market Co-op voted on Saturday to pursue a new location. Nathaniel Dove has the latest on why they voted for the new space and why some didn’t.

The Saskatoon Farmers’ Market Co-op has voted to pursue a lease for a new location.

On Saturday afternoon the group, which currently sells its products in the downtown Riversdale building, voted to pursue a lease for the Cavendish building on Koyl Avenue.

“I’m relieved. I’m relieved that we’re onto the next step,” co-op member Shawnda Blacklock said.

READ MORE: Saskatoon Farmers’ Market Co-op eyes new location

Co-op president Adithya Ramachandran said the building provides a new opportunity for the group, which is pursuing a 10-year lease.

“We can focus our resources on strengthening the Farmers Market Co-op (by) bringing in new vendors, improving the quality of product that’s offered, improving food service that’s offered and having two or three strong market days a week.”

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The vote comes after a decision by the City of Saskatoon, which owns the Riversdale building, not to renew the group’s lease at their current location.

City council voted to look for tenants who could provide more “animation” at the site by hosting markets twice a week and filling the space in other ways on four other days of the week.

The co-op has been in the River Landing building for the past 12 years.

The vote for the Cavendish location wasn’t unanimous.

“Some of us do like the idea of staying near a more central, more accessible (location), in terms of public transit and active transport,” co-op member Keith Jorgenson said on the phone from Rosthern.

“As well, to maintain a building of that size … obviously comes with costs,” he said.

The City of Saskatoon leased the Riversdale building to the co-op at a reduced rate and the group will now have to pay the full commercial lease for the Koyl site.

Saskatoon Farmers’ Market Co-operative raises concerns, frustrations over proposed public market
Saskatoon Farmers’ Market Co-operative raises concerns, frustrations over proposed public market

Jorgenson and Blacklock said they were concerned that they would lose pedestrian business in the new location, which is near the airport.

“We’re looking for constructive feedback from the public about how we can serve the public who don’t own cars because we really need to serve all the consumers of Saskatoon,” Ramachandran said.

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He also said the Koyl Avenue site requires renovations before it can host the market. He said the building would hopefully be ready in February or March. The last day at the Riversdale building is Dec. 22, meaning that the co-op won’t have a permanent location for at least a month.

He also said the renovations would cost more than half a million dollars, which the group will need to fundraise.

“It will be a big project that should have maybe been started a little while ago,” Blacklock said.

READ MORE: Vendors, customers worry about loss of Saskatoon Farmers’ Market community

Ramachandran said a fundraising campaign would be launched in the near future.

Eleanor Lutz, another co-op member, said she wasn’t concerned about the new site.

“It’s going to need a little bit of work but our followers will always follow the farmers market, our customers will always be there for us.”

Two customers to whom Global News spoke disagreed.

Ann Klein said proximity to the market’s downtown location was one of the reasons she moved to her current home. She said the move was “stupid.”

“For me as a senior citizen without a vehicle, I think (the current site) is the best thing — I just love it.”

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Connie Hessdorfer said she thought the move would hinder the market.

“I don’t think many people will travel out there because a lot of people use their bikes and that (to visit the current market site).”