Soon, the Guelph Farmers' Market will be a multi-purpose, indoor-outdoor community market that operates seven days a week.
On Monday, city council unanimously approved a motion for 10C to assume management of the Guelph Farmers’ Market building and offer additional programming during different days and times.
As part of the agreement, 10C will assume all operating costs related to the market building’s maintenance, repair, administration, management, and operation while having the opportunity to establish and collect all fees, charges, rent and recoveries.
10C will also be required to pay rent based on a percentage of revenue generated formula. The city will give 10C $500,000 in transitional funding over six years recognizing the loss of revenue due to COVID, the costs associated with developing and implementing new programming and the market’s 200th anniversary in 2027 according to the Guelph Farmers’ Market 10C Negotiation Update report.
A six-year agreement between the city and 10C begins on Jan. 1, 2022.
“It's already costing us money to run the Farmers' Market. So they're taking it over. And what we're doing is, we are basically continuing to fund what would have been our losses on the project for a period of time while they get it to the setup,” said Coun. Mike Salisbury, who initially moved the motion early this month.
“It kind of gives them seed money to be creative and start making things happen. And it actually doesn't change anything for us. It was costing us money before, it's still costing us money now, but we're moving toward a solution and that I think is super cool.”
10C began negotiations with the city in 2018 in response to the city’s call to review the mission, policies and procedures of the Farmers’ Market.
The Saturday Farmers’ Market operated for five hours on 52 days of the year and has been at a loss. In the report, John Regan, the city’s general manager of economic development and tourism, states that last year, the market saw a deficit of $170,000 and projects a $130,000 deficit for 2021.
The report states the city’s direct operating costs, which include on-site staff, supplies, utilities, and services, averaged $125,000 in the five years prior to the pandemic.
While vendor fees covered those costs, they did not contribute to overhead (management, communication, legal and other City staff) costs and those indirect costs are estimated to have exceeded $100,000 annually.
The report says that the purpose of the agreement is to support the success of the market while activating the building and grounds as a quality public place that represents Downtown Guelph as a food district and the heart of food and culture in Guelph-Wellington.