The Hamilton Farmers’ Market has been having a rough time.
One of the city’s premier spots for locally-farmed produce, artisanal handmade products, baked goods, meats & cheeses, and takeaway lunch or dinner options, the Hamilton Farmers’ Market saw a dramatic dip in business through 2020 due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The situation was really brought to light when one of the market’s longest standing board members, Eric Miller, publicly announced his resignation in protest over city council’s vote against offering rent assistance to the market, leaving its numerous vendors on the hook to pay their 2020 rent in full.
Right now, Gordon Albini, treasurer of the Hamilton Farmers’ Market Board, is showing how hard the pandemic has hit the market. Here's a graph that shows attendance levels plummeted. #HamOnt #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/E6Bcd4ssMw
— Bobby Hristova (@bobbyhristova) January 21, 2021
The impacts have already seen no less than a dozen of the market’s vendors not renew their contract for 2021, and have left numerous others in a terrifyingly precarious position.
City council is set to discuss the idea of offering a one-time support of $30,000 to the market, for which a decision is set to be made in an emergency meeting on Monday afternoon; though, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
That’s why a local group who have called themselves Friends of the Hamilton Farmers’ Market have created an online petition to rally support and urge city staff to take a number of steps that will help save the market from its precarious position, including – most importantly – to prioritize economic recovery of the market as an essential service.
“Due to the pandemic, Hamilton Farmers’ Market vendors were offered rent relief in the form of a 25% payment of monthly rent, for a six-month period, Apr-Sept 2020, by the City’s market staff—upon instruction by the Hamilton Farmers’ Market Board of Directors,” reads the petition, which has already seen nearly 2,500 signatures in a matter of days.
“Now this relief is being clawed back & vendors are facing demands for back-pay of 6 months of 75% rent, or else vendors will not be allowed to open up for business at the Market.”
Friends of the Hamilton Farmers’ Market also points to a number of actions by the city that played a role in the reduction of foot traffic for 2020, including closure of the Jackson Square entrance, city-ordered reduction in open hours, and decisions to cancel advertising through some months last year.
To read more and sign the petition, click here.
Lead image courtesy of @ovocrank