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Kingston Public Market to offer beer, wine and more locally-sourced food

Click to play video: 'Kingston Public Market to offer beer, wine and more locally-sourced food' Kingston Public Market to offer beer, wine and more locally-sourced food
Municipal staff report identifies need for more producers of farm products – Apr 28, 2022

Some big changes are in the works to bring Ontario’s oldest outdoor market into the 21st century.

A staff report going to the City of Kingston’s arts, recreation and community policies committee recommends offering more choices for customers who visit the Kingston Public Market at Springer Market Square on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Kingston Public Market, which has operated in the shadow of city hall since 1801, may be revamped to broaden its appeal to consumers and achieve a Farmers Market designation with more local farmers, local food and less food re-sellers. CKWS TV

Among the new food programming options planned for this season:

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  • Offering food with beer and wine samplings
  • Grab-and-go food to promote local restaurants and support farm-to-table initiatives
  • Chef demonstrations every Saturday morning in July and August with locally-sourced ingredients

Staff say introducing alcohol to the outdoor market experience is something the public has wanted.

“These value-added products are produced locally and are incredibly popular with customers. The intent is to offer these (alcohol) products with food pairings,” according to a report by Peter Huigenbos, city commissioner of business, environment and projects.

Read more: Mobile market addresses food insecurity

Many of these initiatives were first identified a few years ago but could not be offered sooner due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

In addition to more locally-sourced food and beverage options for consumers, the report also recommends the city slash vendor stall rental fees by 50 per cent this season in exchange for
a donation made to various local food/meal organizers, and to waive all rental fees at the other popular farmers’ market at the Kingston Memorial Centre.

The committee is scheduled to discuss the changes at its April 28 meeting, but it will be up to council to approve the recommendations.

The proposed improvements are part of council’s strategic priority to increase availability and access to local food at the Kingston Public Market.

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Another key recommendation, which likely won’t be in place until the 2023 market season, is to overhaul the entire operation of the Kingston Public Market to ensure its future viability and to attract and retain local farmers.

A plan is unveiled for the historic Kingston Public Market to expand its appeal to consumers by offering more locally sourced food, wine and beer. CKWS TV

To that end, it’s recommended that the city issue a request for proposals to find an operator to develop a different market model that will focus on local foods and local farmers, with less reliance on food re-sellers.

“Growers and farmers cannot compete in pricing and availability of products with the re-seller vendors that purchase their food directly from local distribution companies,” the report states.

Read more: Checking the health of the local food industry

Bringing in new management to operate the Market Square space — such as a new or existing association with a dedicated market manager — is based on extensive feedback from the public, Tourism Kingston, Downtown Kingston Businesses improvement Area, other stakeholders, and the vendors themselves.

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“This role would oversee the day-to-day operations and support the vendors to improve these operations, “ says Huigenbos.

Even though the outdoor market that operates behind City Hall is often called the farmers’ market, it technically does not meet that definition. However, these operational changes would be a step towards achieving that designation, according to the staff report.

City officials say having the Farmers’ Market designation exempts markets from certain local public health measures and inspections, making it easier to offer special events related to food and beverage offerings. CKWS TV

City officials say having the farmers’ market designation exempts markets from certain local health unit measures and inspections, making it easier to offer special events related to food and beverage offerings and regular food programming such as sampling.

Read more: Feds invest money to address food insecurity, inflation

The Kingston Public Market has been providing food and a community gathering space since 1801, and typically sells produce, prepared foods, garden plants, flowers and handmade crafts during warmer weather.

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In winter, the historic Market Square transforms into an artificial skating rink.

Click to play video: 'GNM chats with Jessica Colvin from the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce' GNM chats with Jessica Colvin from the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce
GNM chats with Jessica Colvin from the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce – Apr 26, 2022

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