Mayor Lyn Hall is right when he says that the city is in a precarious situation when it comes to the farmer’s market foofaraw.
No one can fault city council for not wanting to play referee in a dispute that is deep-rooted (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) and has seen a lot of bad blood between the two groups. It’s not the city’s job to iron out the mess.
That would hold true if the city wasn’t forcing the issue between the two groups.
Council, following up on a myPG ‘visioning’ session, has decided that it only wants one farmer’s market, not two, in the downtown area. And, it has to be located in Veteran’s Plaza, not at the Courthouse.
Council granted the Prince George Farmer’s Market Association and the Wilson Square Community Market a year reprieve in their dispute and said they have to learn to work together … as long as they agree to locate at Veteran’s Plaza next year.
It’s a top-down directive from a council that was recently elected on a promise to do the opposite.
While council doesn’t want to solve the dispute between the groups, it is forcing the two groups to come to some sort of agreement to work together.
At least there were a couple of voices on council that weren’t completely taken with the “visioning” strategy of having one big farmer’s market located at Veteran’s Plaza.
Coun. Terri McConnachie pointed out that farmer’s markets are real free market enterprises and, left be, the market (i.e. the community) would decide whether it liked having a farmer’s market at the courthouse or on the steps of City Hall … or both.
That was the sentiment of Coun. Susan Scott, who said she rather liked going to one market, then strolling down George Street to the other. She suggested that, perhaps the city should talk to the businesses along George Street to see whether they prefer having markets bookend the street.
The question that no one seems to be answering is: What is so terribly wrong with having two farmer’s markets?
Why is it a scourge on the community to have a farmer’s market at the courthouse and one on the steps of City Hall? Why do they have to all be in the same location?
Perhaps one of the reasons city staff has suggested the Veteran’s Plaza location is because the Prince George Farmer’s Market Association could stay where it is … leasing a city building for $1,500 a month.
Yes, the city does have some skin in the game here. And, rather than trying to bring the two groups together, it has forced the issue (it can deny issuing a permit for the courthouse locale, was set to do so this year, and has said it will do so next year), while claiming it’s not its job to get in the middle of things.
Welcome to the middle.