Hamilton Farmers’ Market vendors denied COVID-19 rent relief by city council

A member of the Hamilton Farmers’ Market Board of Directors has resigned following a vote from city council against supporting market vendors with rent relief during the pandemic.

Council voted 13-1 against providing rent support to the market’s vendors, many of whom have been struggling amid a considerable reduction in business through 2020 and may now face evictions if they cannot agree to pay outstanding 2020 rent in full by today, January 20th.

Hamilton Farmers’ Market board member Eric Miller – the board’s longest serving member – issued a resignation letter in protest, also identifying the means by which the city could have offered readily available supports to market vendors.

“The crisis was twice avoidable,” reads Miller’s letter. “The first opportunity was for Council to provide a substitute of the Federal CECRA program so that the Market Corporation could replicate 6 months of rent reductions that commercial landlords provided under CECRA to small businesses who experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19.”

“A second fall-back opportunity was for the Market Corporation to use the Farmers’ Market Reserve Account to accommodate just 3 months of rent reductions during the worst part of the lockdown and restricted market access that resulted in a 75% drop in customer counts.”

The Hamilton Farmers’ Market is one of the city’s prime spots for supporting farmers, artisans, and other food purveyors from within Hamilton and its surrounding area. It remains to be seen if any current vendors will ultimately face eviction from the market in the coming days.

Read Miller’s full resignation letter here.

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