In a move applauded by the Border City Farmers’ Market (BCFM), Lloydminster city council amended a bylaw which would have had required individual market vendors to purchase their own business licences.
Vendors would have had to pay an annual fee of $150 to sell their goods at the market, a requirement that the BCFM says would have discouraged many of their members from participating. With the amendment, farmers’ markets will pay $250 for a licence that covers all of their members. However, if vendors sell their goods outside of the market, they still need to buy a licence.
“If some of these vendors had to pay that $150 a year it would have been awful for our farmers’ market,” BCFM treasurer Sarah Hunter said.” We probably, honestly, would not have had a farmers’ market. We probably wouldn’t have been able to continue because we wouldn’t have had enough vendors to keep it (going).”
Hunter says the bylaw put the whole market at risk. She says some of their vendors are retired and on disability and rely on farmers’ market income for spending money. Others don’t even make their money back and just participate to be active in the community.
Hunter says the farmers’ market relies on its vendors, and fewer vendors leads to fewer customers.
“The amount of customers that come to shop is directly effected by how many vendors we have selling,” she said. “So, if we have no one selling, no one will come shopping and we just wouldn’t be able to have a farmers market. It would have eventually just diminished.”
The change in legislation comes after local farmers’ markets groups met with city lawmakers to explain the bylaw’s full effects.
“After we had passed that bylaw, both the farmers’ markets that we have in the city brought some concerns forward to us,” said Amy Smart, the city’s acting director of legislative services. “They felt it didn’t really cover what their businesses do, so after some discussions we decided to bring forward this amendment.”
BCFM secretary Corine Korn sells tarts and bars and cookies at her booth at the market. She says that while $150 a year may seem like an insignificant fee for a larger, more established business, for the retirees and stay-at-home moms who come to the market, it can be a real obstacle.
“To somebody who comes and sells buns and jam, that’s a lot of buns and jam before you start turning a profit,” Korn said. “The whole point of a market is to have people here to sell. If it’s only the bigger businesses or only five or 10 businesses, then people aren’t going to come out for that. They really want that variety and they want those smaller businesses. They want the grandma’s jam and the homemade buns.”
“We’re really happy that the city took the time to hear our concerns and were very open with us and we’re very happy that they’ve allowed us to continue to operate as an umbrella for our vendors,” she said