All candidates for Cobourg Council were invited to present responses to important environmental and sustainability questions issued to them by Sustainable Cobourg. Their responses have been received and published below.
The Cobourg Farmers’ Market is a vital and historic part of town providing a direct link between local farmers and community. The Market feels it needs to expand the area available to them, since space has been reduced by reconstruction of the boulevard on Second St., and by increased demand. They have requested to have Second St. closed off during market hours to allow for this use. However, the current Cobourg Council has so far not supported the request, saying that it was difficult to arrange.
If elected to Cobourg Council, how will you handle this request?
It is not difficult to arrange, but there is a cost attached to it and this amount needs to be in the 2011 budget.
I do not believe that it was so much an issue of “difficulty in arranging”. There was a matter of significant unbudgeted cost to deal with for the set up and take down of the barriers needed to close and subsequently re-open Second Street. I believe the matter is to be auctioned as part of the 2011 budget deliberations.
I was somewhat disappointed by the fact that the Farmers Market did not opt to even try out the offer to use the south west parking lot space at Second and Queen Streets.
In any case, I believe there are other options that can be explored to overcome the cost problem. I have an idea that we might want to examine as a solution for the long term. About a month ago, I raised a somewhat unconventional idea with respect to the Market. What if we closed Second Street permanently and paved it over with cobblestones and added other attractive features to create a plaza/pedestrian mall on the west side of Victoria hall? The market could then use the space they have now with the added contiguous space in the newly created plaza. The plaza could be used for many other community events held in the core area. This would also provide an attractive open pedestrian route to Rotary Park and the harbour. This is something of radical idea and may not be possible but I will look into it a little further.
First let me say that I value and appreciate the Cobourg Farmers Market and what they have brought to our town for all these many years. I would definitely encourage a review of the current market location to determine exactly what their space requirements are and what could be done to expand it where necessary. I am aware that they have on occasion required more space but also know that on those occasions when we’ve attempted to move them that there has been conflict. That being said as a councilor I would be willing to do what I could to encourage easier access to increased space as required for this market to continue to flourish and indeed grow.
The Cobourg Farmers’ Market has maintained a long standing and unique relationship with The Town of Cobourg since 1839. This promotes the concept of buying local farm products, urban agriculture and encourages local distribution within our community. To enable Cobourg Farmers’ Market to flourish and expand to Second Street on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. from May-December would require council to budget approximately $12 000 to meet collective bargaining agreements. By being proactive and planning for this in the upcoming 2011 budget, we can meet their request. I see this as a win-win situation for everyone, especially the citizens who support local farming throughout Northumberland County.
The town has offered a cost-free alternative to the use of Second St. The Market organization has been offered the northeast corner lot at Second St. and Albert St. It is available and could almost double the space available to the market.
A previous Council accepted (and has not yet completed) a plan for the re-development of Victoria Square (area around Victoria Hall including four streets) included an expansion of the Farmers Market to include a temporary Saturday closing of Second Street so that the Market could expand and provide a better connection with the main street. Over the years, this vision seems to have faded. We also need to have the concrete parking bumpers removed. They are a liability to pedestrians using the Market Square.
The matter needs to be referred to the annual budget in the interests of the vitality of the downtown and the Market needs to be properly acknowledged for its place and growing role in the community. The area around Victoria Hall is first a public square and a secondly, a convenient parking lot when it is not filled with another public activity.
I am flabbergasted that Cobourg would not jump at the chance to close off Second Street and encourage the growth of our wonderful Farmers’ Market. We are so blessed that so many food producers bring such bounty to our doorsteps each Saturday for a great part of the year. I cannot understand why it is so difficult to arrange a simple street closure. Second Street is a one-way street. Put a couple of barricades across the top of the street each Saturday morning or put one of the stalls blocking the road right by the Mayor’s preferred parking spot. If I am elected, I will strongly advocate for enhancement of the Farmers’ Market.
The farmers market is very simple for me. I would support any needed program that will encourage the farmers market to enlarge their operation. The farmers have been struggling for many years in tough economic times and the short time on Saturday morning should not have any impact on the streets downtown.
This question assumes the validity of the statement “The Market feels the need to expand the area available to them since their space has been reduced by the reconstruction of the boulevard on Second St., and by increased demand.” For some time I have heard conflicting versions of what “The Market” wants and observed through personal involvement that when opportunities for expansion were suggested and made available, the response was mixed in its acceptance. Of course, nothing remains the same and these positions may well have changed as the membership of the market changes.
Before any significant steps are taken to address the market activities and space, there needs to be a clear indication and a proper case made for such changes. The market has to demonstrate its solidarity and commitment to a realistic long term plan. Experience shows that the market is a dynamic entity and always seeks the optimum venue for its then-current requirements. It would be prudent to make sure that any changes are sustainable in the long term as well as the immediate.
This is a request that should be honoured. And I would push for this if elected.
See answer above.