NORTH PERTH – Council approved a bi-weekly market to help address food security issues and allow Listowel residents to purchase produce sourced from local farms at cost or slightly more on April 11. However, not all councillors were on board with the decision.
On Feb. 28, North Perth Council received a letter proposing It Takes a Village provide the community with an outdoor market every other Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. from May until October in front of the North Perth Library.
The letter clarified that It Takes a Village would be the only vendor because the project intends to provide access to healthy, locally grown produce at cost or just marginally above, as eating healthy is becoming out of reach for many people.
“To erode the polarization and stigmas that can affect projects perceived to be only for those who “need” assistance, the market would be advertised for all community members and with an “honour system” of payment,” stated It Takes a Village Executive Director Andrea Charest in the letter.
There will be a predetermined price for products, but people can pay more to support the market if they are able.
Charest is cautiously optimistic that the model will effectively create dialogues that strengthen, educate, and empower “folks to see that they can feed themselves and their families, with dignity and support.”
In the notes attached to the letter, she stated that it would be a non-profit venture making “an investment in people, community and health.”
The market intends to provide fair and equitable access to healthy food bought from local farms.
It Takes a Village requested that the Municipality of North Perth waive the annual vendor fee, and they “assumed that any liability insurance falls within the Municipal coverage for public areas.”
In discussions with It Takes a Village, municipal staff informed them that this was not the case, and they would have to show proof of $2 million in liability insurance.
CAO Kriss Snell said that the library board directed municipal staff to create a policy for the outdoor space to address both this request and future requests. On March 30, North Perth staff met with It Takes a Village to discuss alternate locations for the market.
Addressing concerns that council raised at the Feb. 28 council about setting a precedent, staff suggested the licensing fee of $250 for a farmer’s market remain in effect and that they hold the market at Livingstone Park. It Takes a Village agreed with that location for the market.
“I’m just wondering by recommending to approve this if we’re not setting a different precedence that we allow a non-charitable organization to set up shop for six months on municipal land,” said Coun. Matt Richardson. “Don’t get me wrong. I certainly understand the premise that this is coming from and the good intentions … If it was a one-off, I might be a little more apt to agree with the recommendation … however, the way it stands, I think it sets too much precedence, especially for a six-month growing season … I think it has the opportunity to affect a lot of farmgate sales where people are genuinely trying to make a profit by selling their yearly crops.”
It Takes a Village provided correspondence that it incorporated in 2020 with a board of directors giving governance structure, and it maintains two million dollars of liability insurance coverage. To date, it has not applied for status as a registered charity.
In a vote of seven against three, North Perth council agreed to permit It Takes a Village to operate an outdoor market venue every other Saturday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. from May to October at Livingstone Park 175 Livingstone Avenue South, Listowel, in compliance with all provisions of Bylaw 95-2015.
Deputy Mayor Doug Kellum and Councillors Richardson and Dave Johnston voted against allowing the market to happen.
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