Fort St. John Farmers Market finds new home in curling club

Jessica Harrison, Events and Promotions Manager, says the possibility of using the space has been on the table for some time, but the market’s executive wanted to check out other options before making a decision. 

“They’re willing to work with our group and welcomed us to their space,” she says. “The price was comparable to what we’ve been paying, so it was affordable with our current charges to our vendors for table rental and budgets that we already have in place, and being close to our current location it would be really easy for people to find us.” 

The market’s future has seemed uncertain in the past couple of years, especially after new rate structures for city-owned building rentals meant the cost for renting the North Peace Arena went up from $110 a year to $3456 a month. The City admitted it did not realize the effect the restructuring would have on the Farmers Market, and agreed to a reduced, graduated rent until the end of 2013. At $35 an hour, it’s not a steep increase from that reduced rent of $30.12 that was being paid from September 2012 to December 2013. 

While bonspiels held at the curling club on weekends throughout the year, they are generally held during the earlier months before the market is open. Harrison only expects the Oilmen’s bonspiel in November to get in the way of the market. 

“I think Oilmen’s for sure will interrupt our schedule, but I think [Curling Club General Manager Ryan Harvey] is confident we can work around the other existing ones,” she says. “It could be that on days where there is a bonspiel we might not be able to use the downstairs concourse; we might only be able to use the upstairs space and limit vendors to one table. We’re going to have to figure out those fine details as they happen.”

A date hasn’t been set, but it’s likely the Farmers Market will hold its AGM sometime in February. Like in the past couple of years, it’s expected there will likely be a shake up in faces on the executive for a variety of reasons.

Also in the plans for 2014 is an application for a grant to increase the market’s advertising budget, which would help get the word out about its location change. There is also the possibility of getting a grant that would provide a lump sum of money to produce gift certificates to the market that would be distributed to low-income and senior residents through local agencies. 

“That would be a great benefit to our community, and it also benefits the vendors because essentially the money just goes back into their pockets.” 

Even if the application is unsuccessful, the executive will look for a local sponsor for the program.


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