Little danger of Winter Market cancellation

By David F. Rooney

The Winter Market should not be in any danger of being cancelled.

City Council discussed the e-mails that have been flying around the local portion of the cybersphere and it appears as though the controversy is, as Councillor Gary Starling put it, “a misunderstanding.”

He said the issue of fees for the Winter Market were discussed a couple of months ago. At that time the City determined that the fee for the winter market should be $190. That’s up from the previous fee of $120 but less than the $230.75 Hermann Bruns of the Winter Market Committee thought was going to be imposed.

Parks, Recreation and Culture Director Laurie Donato said the Winter Market fees comes under the heading of “Market Events” in the department’s fee schedule.

However, while Bruns is happy that the City responded to the market committee’s concerns and he hopes a closer working relationship will improve the dialogue between them.

“Councilor Gary Starling called me a few hours prior to today’s Council meeting to explain that he and the other members of the Parks and Rec committee had come up with a new fee for the market,” Bruns told The Current. “Up until that point neither I nor anyone else on the Famers Market board of directors had heard anything about a fee change. By the way, the $230.75 fee had already been imposed all last winter, also without prior notification. I had actually written a similar letter to Laurie Donato back in the spring and she suggested we take this to Council as her hands were tied by the bylaw.

“So I suppose you could characterize that as a “misunderstanding” but to me it seems that Parks and Rec just neglected to inform anyone about the amendment to the Fees and Charges Bylaw 2008. In fact if you do a search for that document on the city website, you’ll see that only the most recent version of the bylaw posted on August 28 (4 days after I wrote my letter) contains the “1.4 Market Events” clause. If we had been informed about those changes, I could have saved myself, and all the people who wrote emails in support, the trouble of having to bother City Council.

“Anyway, aside from that I am happy that they responded to our concerns. Apparently, the plan also is to have us hold the market in one of the multi-purpose rooms instead of the hallway because of safety and congestion concerns. Again there was no prior notification/consultation. While the $190 is only a $40/market reduction, it represents $480 +taxes in savings to the Winter Market over the course of the season. Hopefully by keeping our other market co-ordination expenses as low as possible, we will be able to break even with that fee structure.

“Given the numerous expressions of support (Gary said he had received 45 emails) for the Winter Market, I am hopeful that we will be able to develop a closer working relationship with the Community Centre managers so that the market can continue to develop and be an asset to the community.”