Improve it, expand it, take it to the streets and surrounding neighbourhoods, but please don't yuppify it or ruin it.
By Jason Leach
Published April 10, 2007
I'm excited yet a little disturbed at what I'm reading regarding the redevelopment of the Hamilton's Farmers Market.
Physical renovations, removing traffic lanes on York and adding outside stalls and café/seating areas are all vital in the improvement of the market.
I can even live with the suggestion that a better mix of vendors could be developed, although I enjoy having a good selection of fruits and veggies as opposed to a billion types of chips and pop like you'll find at a grocery store.
Hamilton Farmers' Market (Image Credit: Joe Ceretti)
However, I can't help but get nervous when a Toronto consultant says that we need to attract a more affluent audience by developing a hip, urban shopping experience.
Obviously we want the market to attract people from all over Hamilton and the surrounding area, but I hope to hear more mention in the future about adding more farmers, not prepared food stalls.
Extending the hours, programming and overall atmosphere would be welcome, but I like the fact that it's down to earth and comfortable.
Turn it into a Whole Foods and you'll lose a huge segment of the customer base. There's a reason the market has survived and still does decent business on a rotten highway stretch of York in the bottom of a parking garage.
It would be nice for the city to look at market redevelopment in the greater context of developing a 'market district'.
Streetscaping and wide sidewalks along Vine, McNab and Park could be developed and the local Asian grocers and markets encouraged to spill out onto the street.
Plant trees and turn the area into a vibrant district where one can spend a big hunk of time on a Saturday sitting, shopping, eating, drinking coffee and enjoying a vibrant urban area similar to the Byward Market area in Ottawa.
Previously we published a vision for a 'market district'. The city's urban design department even got into the act with a vision of what could be developed in this area:
There's no reason to hide this gem of a destination in our city. Improve it, expand it, take it to the streets and surrounding neighbourhoods, but please don't yuppify it or ruin it.
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