New municipal corporations poised to run Ottawa's ByWard, Parkdale markets

The city is creating an arm's length non-profit.
Parkdale Market
City workers dismantle parts of the Parkdale Market, seen last fall, in preparation for winter. (Photo by Peter Kovessy)

Sales are down at Ottawa’s oldest farmers markets, but the city has a plan to establish an independent board of directors tasked with bringing them to life again.

On Tuesday city councillors heard from vendors concerned about low sales and sparse stalls. And the new strategy — to establish a non-profit that will manage the markets — was approved by the finance committee.

The ByWard Market and the Parkdale market were the city’s original farmers markets, but there are now 25 in the city limits, including three new ones just added. The competition is one of the reasons that sales have been down, according to Mayor Jim Watson.

Councillors and farmers raised concerns that many of the sellers are not offering local produce, but reselling products in tents and stalls that are micromanaged by the city.

“It’s important that we try something different and we have less political and bureaucratic influence on the market,” said Watson.

If the board of directors will be left to their own devices, councillors said the names picked will be critical.

“Depending on the makeup of that board, you’ll be choosing a direction, so who is on that board will be very important,” Coun. Diane Deans said.

Coun. Keith Egli emphasized having agriculture representatives while Coun. Jan Harder insisted business experience will also be required.

“If we can go out and attract some really great people to sit on that board of directors and give the freedom to help with the revitalization of the two markets, that’s a bonus for everyone: the farmers, the vendors and the clients,” Watson said.

This article originally appeared in Metro News.