Edmonton’s City Market Downtown needs community representation

This is a long post, so here’s the summary: the City Market Downtown has called a Special Meeting to change the organization’s bylaws so that vendors have complete control over the affairs of the market, whereas previously a healthy mix of vendor and community representation has been required. I believe this is an unfortunate and reactive turn of events that will prevent the City Market from growing and achieving success in the future. The City Market is successful presently because of the partnership that exists between vendors, consumers, residents, businesses, and the City of Edmonton, and I would like to see that partnership remain and become even stronger. I’m sharing this in the hopes that more Edmontonians will look at the City Market not just as a great place to shop at on Saturday, but also as an integral part of our downtown and of the city we all want Edmonton to be.

In a little over a week the City Market Downtown will return to 104 Street for the summer season. Even though it has been nearby throughout the winter at City Hall, I’m positive that May 19 will feel more like a return than simply a shift in location. The outdoor market is an altogether different and special experience, one that thousands of Edmontonians enjoy every weekend from May through October!

For more than one hundred years, the City Market has played an important and unique role in our city. In the early days, the existence of the market reflected Edmonton’s aspirations to be a place of importance. In recent years, the market has helped to revitalize our downtown. It’s most important role however, has been as a mechanism for connecting urban Edmontonians with their rural neighbours. As Kathryn Chase Merret wrote in her book, A History of the Edmonton City Market, 1900-2000, “the years during which the Edmonton City Market flourished were years when it embodied a popularly held and powerful civic idea, the interdependence of country and city.”

City Market Downtown

When the City Market moved to 104 Street in 2004, the idea of connecting country and city became embedded in the bylaws of the Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market Association. Among other things, the bylaws outline the composition of the board: five to ten members, including at least two members representing vendors, one member representing residents, and one member representing the business community. That composition is significant because it puts vendors and the community on equal terms, fifty-fifty. For the organization to work with such a structure, there must be a partnership between both sides. I firmly believe that partnership is what has enabled the City Market to flourish over the last seven years. And that is why I was alarmed to receive a notice about an upcoming Special Meeting to amend the bylaws in such a way that vendors would have complete control over the market.

Over the last week I have spent a significant amount of time and energy trying to get a better understanding of the situation. I wanted to know more about the history and the people involved, and I wanted to figure out if my initial alarm regarding the changes was warranted. I have talked to both current and past board members, I have talked to residents and businesses on 104 Street, and I have talked to both current and past City Councillors. What follows simply cannot represent every viewpoint on the matter, but know that I have done my best to gather as many perspectives as possible. Unfortunately both Dieter Kuhlmann and Dan Young, the current and past chairs of the City Market board respectively, declined to comment.

Proposed Bylaw Changes

On April 27 a “Notice of Special Meeting” was mailed to all members of the Edmonton Downtown Farmers’ Market Association. The notice indicated that a Special Meeting would take place on Monday, May 14, 2012 starting at 7:30pm at the Sutton Place Hotel to vote on a Special Resolution to amend the current bylaws. A copy of the amended bylaws was included, but the current bylaws were not, making it difficult to compare. In addition to a number of smaller changes, there are three big and important changes proposed.

  1. The categories of membership under the current bylaws are: Regular Member, Associate Member, Honoured Life Member. Regular Members are further categorized as Vendor Members and Community Members, but both have full and equal voting rights. Under the proposed bylaws, the categories of membership are: Voting Member, Non-Voting Member, and Honoured Life Member. Importantly, only vendors would be allowed to be Voting Members.
  2. As mentioned above, the current bylaws state that the Board of Directors must comprise five to ten members, including at least two Regular Members representing vendors, one Regular Member representing residents of downtown Edmonton, and one Regular Member representing the business community of downtown Edmonton. Under the proposed bylaws, the Board of Directors would be comprised of five to nine individuals, including a minimum of five Voting Members (ie. vendors), and if additional board members are elected, one Non-Voting Member who would represent residents and one Non-Voting Member who would represent the business community. If a full slate were to be elected, the eighth and ninth members would also be Voting Members.
  3. Under the current bylaws, each Director serves a two year term and may serve no more than three consecutive terms. Under the proposed bylaws, there is no limit to the number of terms a Director may serve.

To summarize, the changes remove the requirement to have resident and business representatives on the board, they remove the right of non-vendors to vote, they require that vendors always have a majority on the board, and they remove the term limits for board members.

I think it is important to point out that inadequate notice has been given for this Special Meeting. According to Service Alberta:

The by-laws must say that in the future the by-laws can only be changed by a special resolution of the members. Special resolution is defined in Section 1(d) of the Societies Act. The definition cannot be changed.

If you look at that section of the Societies Act, you’ll find that for such a resolution to be valid, “not less than 21 days’ notice specifying the intention to propose the resolution has been duly given.” In this case, just 17 days notice has been given.

Why did this come forward?

Practically speaking, someone brought a petition forward signed by twenty-five members of the association, as required by section 9.03 of the bylaws. I have been told that the petition was not a board initiative, and although no one was willing to name names it has become clear to me that there is one individual in particular who has taken it upon himself to drive this forward.

For some time now, there have been complaints from the businesses on the street about the logistics of the market. The businesses feel that the configuration of the market on the south end of the street unnecessarily hides their storefronts, blocks the sidewalks, and makes it difficult for consumers to shop. The market has typically responded with concern about the impact any changes would have on the logistics of setting up and tearing down the market. In my opinion, both sides have handled the situation poorly. The market seems to have taken the perspective that it is the greatest thing to ever happen to the street, and the businesses don’t seem to realize that perhaps they could do more to attract some of the 15,000+ people who walk by on a Saturday. Discussions have been ongoing and with Councillor Batty acting as a mediator between the two sides in recent weeks, a small amount of progress was finally made a few days ago when both sides agreed to trial a reconfiguration of the south end of the market. I think this ongoing negative situation has contributed to the desire by some vendors to remove any business representation from the market.

Another contributing factor appears to be last year’s vote on whether or not to pursue the Mercer Warehouse as a year-round venue for the market. The motion was defeated overwhelmingly, 69-3. Sharon and I abstained from that vote because we felt it was inappropriate to vote on something that could have such a significant impact on a vendor’s financial situation (each would have had to contribute thousands of dollars). In hindsight, it seems that a number of community representatives pushed quite hard for the building and that may have contributed to some vendors feeling threatened and ultimately led to the decisive vote.

Most significantly, it seems that personality conflicts have played a major role in this turn of events. Arnold Renschler was recruited to the board as a community member and was elected in January this year, but stepped down just a couple of months later after attempting unsuccessfully to bring vendors and businesses on the street together to discuss their differences. He quickly found that others on the board were not supportive of his initiative. “We need people to volunteer and while I am willing to give my time, the organization has to be open, transparent, fair, and democratic,” he told me. Arnold felt that the organization was one he did not want to be associated with, a message I have heard from a number of other individuals as well.

Why does this matter?

In my conversations over the last week, people overwhelmingly feel that the proposed changes would take the market in a negative direction. “A healthy balance between vendors and non-vendors is what has made the market successful,” is what former board member Jennifer Fisk told me. That healthy balance is precisely why the original board members wrote the bylaws the way they did. They recognized that the City Market is unique specifically because of its location. Instead of occupying a building that it owns and operates, the City Market calls 104 Street home just on Saturdays and just during the summer months. You might say that they are a guest of the street for that time, and that being a guest comes with certain expectations. “Downtown has many stakeholders, all of which need to be willing to hold dialogue with each other and discuss the issues in a rational, open-minded manner,” Chris Buyze, President of the Downtown Edmonton Community League, told me. “It’s about maintaining balance and a willingness to work with others.”

Without question, many vendors have a much larger stake in the market than residents or local businesses do. For many vendors, the market is their livelihood, and they’ve almost certainly put more blood, sweat, and tears into participating in the market than someone who simply lives on the street. However, because of that greater investment vendors are more likely to act in their own self-interest than in the best interests of the market. Having outside representation can help to provide a broader perspective. “I believe it should be a vendor led board, but that doesn’t mean that you have to exclude the other parties,” Arnold told me. There are few organizations that are as political as farmers’ markets are, and often that’s because of turf wars and other petty differences.

From a logistical point-of-view, having a balance of vendors and non-vendors is vitally important. Vendors are busy and many live outside the city, so they cannot be expected to keep up-to-date with what is happening on the street. That’s one area in which residents and businesses can be extremely valuable contributors. For example, they can both provide input to the board about changes to the street and can attend meetings in the city such as the ones that Transportation is scheduling to discuss future LRT construction.

Most people I talked to also feel that it is difficult to compare the City Market to other markets. Each market is different and what might work for one won’t necessarily work for another. For example, the St. Albert Market is completely run by the Chamber of Commerce and it has grown to become possibly the most successful single-day market in the province. In contrast, the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market is vendor-run and yet it too is extremely successful. The context in which the City Market operates is completely different, and I think a strong case can be made for a healthy mix of vendor and community representation.

The City Market does not operate in a vacuum. It needs the support of the community it parachutes in and out of for twenty-two weeks over the summer. “I do think that this market in particular works best when the community and the market are integrated,” former City Councillor Michael Phair told me. “It would be very valuable to have voting representation on the board from someone that has a connection to those living or working on the street.”

Why does the City Market matter?

There are lots of farmers’ markets in the Edmonton area, and new ones seem to be popping up all the time. But there aren’t any other markets like the City Market. Being located in the heart of downtown is a huge advantage that no other market has. The City Market is the only farmers’ market accessible via LRT, for instance, and that draws thousands of people into the core every week. When the LRT was extended to Century Park, there was a noticeable jump in attendance at the City Market.

According to Alberta Agriculture, the average person spent $35 per visit to a farmers’ market in 2004. By 2008, that number had jumped to $45. “The average customer to the City Market spends $68 each week,” former board member and 104 Street resident Jon Hall explained to me. “The market supports millions of dollars of commerce each year.” And he pointed out that the weekly average spend does not include parking, coffee, or other things that people might buy while they are in the area.

We throw the R-word (revitalization) around a lot these days, but there’s no question that the City Market has played and continues to play an important role in the turnaround of downtown. That’s especially exciting because it was not very long ago that the market itself was in need of a turnaround! There seems to be a interesting mix of fortunes for downtown and the City Market. For example, one of the key reasons that Sharon and I moved downtown was because of the City Market.

Future of the City Market

While the City Market still has a number of years on its lease with the City for 104 Street, there is no guarantee that it will remain there. Starting next year, the market will likely face significant logistical challenges at its present location due to the construction of the proposed third and fourth Icon towers in the parking lot on the northwest corner of 102 Avenue and 104 Street, as well as the eventual construction of the Downtown LRT Connector (which runs down 102 Avenue). There are alternatives that don’t require the market to move off the street, however. Michael Phair suggested that both the alley behind Sobeys and 104 Street south across Jasper Avenue could be viable locations for the market to expand or move into. “As you go south, you have quite a bit of space,” he said. “I think it would be relatively easy to manage the crossing at Jasper Avenue.” He points out that thousands of people cross Gateway Boulevard every Saturday from the parking lot to the Old Strathcona market, so why can’t they cross Jasper Avenue, which has even less traffic?

If the City Market cannot remain on 104 Street because a new location is truly better for the market, then that’s a valid reason to move. But if the market decides to move because it cannot or will not get along with the 104 Street community, that’s a different situation altogether. And I fear that without representation from the downtown community that has been home to the market for over one hundred years, there’s a real chance that the market may consider moving outside the downtown core. That would be a significant blow to the momentum that downtown now has, and I think would ultimately have a negative impact on the market itself.

Conclusion

The City Market on 104 Street is successful today because of the partnership that exists between vendors, consumers, residents and businesses on the street, and the City of Edmonton. Without the significant investments made by the City over the last two decades, 104 Street simply would not have been able to develop into one of Edmonton’s premier streets. The residents, businesses, and City Market together all bring the foundation provided by the City to life and positively contribute to the vibrancy and attractiveness of the street.

I believe that partnership is worth fighting for, and as such I view the proposed bylaw changes with great concern. I do not believe that the changes have been suggested with the best interests of the City Market at heart, and I think it is clear that they have been brought forward without adequate notice in an effort to avoid healthy discussion of the matter. I feel that strong vendor and community representation is a necessity for the City Market to continue to thrive, and I think that any attempt to cut either side out of the equation is shortsighted and harmful.

The City Market is not simply a place to buy food and crafts on the weekend. Rather, it connects Edmonton’s urban and rural communities and contributes significantly to the ongoing revitalization of our downtown. The City Market is one of the few remaining connections we have to our city’s earliest days, and I hope it continues to successfully play a role in the lives of Edmontonians for years to come.

City Market Downtown

How You Can Help

Tell others that you care about the City Market and its role in the city. Contact the City Market and buy a $10 membership. Go to the meeting on Monday night and express your concerns. Write to your City Councillor. Tweet your thoughts. Whatever you do, please don’t take the City Market for granted!

UPDATE (May 12): As per the comment below from City Market board chair Dieter Kuhlmann, the meeting has been postponed until mid-June. Here’s the notice that was sent to members:

The Special Meeting that was called for May 14, 2012 has been cancelled. Notice of a Special Meeting for the week of June 11, 2012 will be issued and mailed out next week in order to provide members with the required 21 days notice of the Special Resolution that will be the topic of the Special Meeting.

While this is a welcome change that will allow for more discussion, it doesn’t mean the issue is done just yet.

27 thoughts on “Edmonton’s City Market Downtown needs community representation

  1. Mack, I should correct one item. There is an assumption by many, including the market board, that the Downtown LRT Connector will start construction on 102 Avenue next year. That is not true. I have pointed this out to the market board many times, but they have used it as a reason to not change the layout of the market stalls. In a best case scenario and to the best of my knowledge, we are 5-8 years away from any Downtown LRT Connector work being implemented. That simply can not be used as an excuse for immediate consideration. Long term it will cause some short growing pains.

    1. Thanks Chris. I have heard differing statements about the LRT construction, but I think you’re probably right and I will amend my post to better reflect the uncertainty of when such construction might start. Ultimately it depends on funding – if somehow enough funding opened up this year, I’m positive construction would start ASAP.

  2. This is a surprising and disheartening turn of events. As a fan of the downtown market and its current location, I cannot help but wonder what good could come from this “power play” on the part of the vendors. Without the support of the 104 St business community, the market could turn into a philosophical war zone. It is incredibly sad to see a local venue cut out the voices of other local businesses. It would be an unwise direction for the vendors to take. That being said, if vendors choose to “block” local businesses from input in the market, my family will not be supporting the market in the future. To wield power against local businesses to the detriment of those businesses reeks of hypocrisy and is not the spirit of the market. 

  3. Mack, could you give any more details on becoming a member so we can vote at the meeting? I don’t see anything on the website about becoming an ordinary member… I’d be totally willing to pay the $10 and come to the meeting to help this cause.

    1. Unfortunately I am not sure. We have always purchased our membership at the AGM. I think you can become a member at any time, so I see no reason why you couldn’t attend on Monday night and ask to purchase a membership at the door. I did email and call the City Market office to find out more, but did not receive a response.

  4. You are spot-on in your analysis and reasoning Mack.  The old guard of vendors feel entitled to do what they want with the market, but in fact it is the attendees who are the “owners”.  The thousands of people who attend the market each year want a balanced street, with access to shops as well as market vendors, and adequate space to move about.  If the vendors (who largely don’t live in our city) want to wash out all these concerns and force their agenda down our throats, there are other markets on the rise that will provide a much more enjoyable experience.  If they don’t understand this, the downtown market will ultimately fail, at which point it can be taken back by the community and vendors willing to ‘play nice’.

  5. The City Market is a great resource for the 174 vendors but also the 18,000 people who attend the market each week (on average) to shop, meet and enjoy the day. It has to be a partnership that continues to serve both consumer and producer. Over the past 8 years many non-vendors have contributed their skills and insights to the operation. Of the six presidents, 4 have been non-vendors. Other have served as treasurer, secretary, marketer, program leaders, philosophers and lobbyists. To eliminate this resource disrespects the past contributions of the community and eliminates them in the  future. 

  6. Thanks for bringing this issue to the attention of your readers Mack. I’m not sure how the business owners of 104 Street could have handled this situation any better or differently. The businesses on 104 Street have assumed some of the highest lease rates in the city to bring the most unique collection of products, services, and environments together in one place that has existed in Edmonton within my lifetime. The City Market benefits greatly from the draw of the 104 Street businesses (some of which predate the Market’s presence), while the reverse can only be said for a select few businesses. In fact, there are several businesses that suffer financially from the Downtown Market, and despite that fact they’ve been some of the Market’s most vocal advocates because they recognize the importance of a Downtown Market as a cultural institution. The same cannot be said of the most influential members of the current Board of the Market.

    At the beginning of the 2011 market the 104 Street business owners contacted the Market by mail with some suggestions about how the Market could be improved to benefit market vendors, business owners, and Saturday shoppers. This was interpreted as an attack on the Farmer’s Market and several of us were visited by the current president of the Market Board who yelled and cursed at us claiming, “You wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for us!”. It was suggested to us that if we wanted to ensure profitability on Saturdays that we should rent the areas in front of our businesses from the Market to keep access and visibility unobstructed. This was followed by further harassment of some business owners e.g. one owner was told that he couldn’t serve food on his patio during the Market hours.

    In our subsequent dealings with Downtown Market’s representatives it became clear that the reprehensible manner in which they had been dealing with their neighbors was the mandate of a tiny group of “good old boys” who formed a minority of the Board of Directors and did not represent the interests or sentiments of any of the market vendors that we talked to – I would challenge you to find a Market vendor who feels that the Board of Directors represents their interests in the slightest, or ever seeks their input on decisions. We learned that those Board members basically enact whatever policies they please, routinely ignoring their own bylaws and excluding any other Board Directors from decision making who they suspect will not support their agendas. For example, as you correctly point out, their current bylaws call for a voting Director representing both the business owners and residents of their downtown community; this doesn’t mean a thing –  both of those positions have gone unrepresented, intentionally, for the majority of 2012. This latest episode with the Bylaw changes is simply an attempt to further consolidate power in the hands of these same people.

    So now we’ve been informed by Councillor Batty that a 3-week trial of the configuration that the business owners have been calling for over the past several years is going forward (the Market representatives did not have the courtesy to contact the representatives of the business owners directly about this, even though we’ve been involved in an extended series of discussions focusing on this issue). Keep in mind that this reconfiguration was not designed to benefit 104 Street businesses, but rather to benefit the market vendors and mitigate the damage that the Market causes some 104 Street businesses. Over and over, the business owners and residents have been told by Market representatives that this configuration – although it is the way almost all farmer’s markets operate and is a “no brainer” to anybody with the most cursory experience in retailing any category of product or service – was impossible for all sorts of inscrutable reasons. I get the strong sense that the only motivation behind this action was fear that the taxpaying members of the 104th street community would call for a relocation of the Downtown Market if they are abused or ignored any longer.

    There is currently no plan in place to assess the success or failure of the configuration trial or process by which to determine if the new configuration will remain, at least none that I am aware of.

    1. Even in your response there seems to be no recognition that having the City Market on the street even just for 22 weeks has a positive impact on the street for the entire year. You really don’t think that the attention 104 Street receives during the market season translates into increased traffic in the off-season months?

      I completely agree with you that the businesses on the street do not owe their existence or success to the market, but likewise I don’t think the market can be blamed for all the problems.

      Very interesting about the reconfiguration – the lack of a plan or process to determine whether or not it worked is disappointing. It would be a shame to have it tested for three weeks and then simply revert to the way it worked before, especially after all the energy you have put into getting to this point.

      1. Mack, I can only speak for the business owners on the street, and as I mentioned above nearly every one of them recognizes that the City Market is important as a cultural feature of our growing downtown. It is also possible that there is a positive “awareness” impact that the market creates for full time businesses. Unfortunately that impact is very difficult to assess with the limited data gathering potential of the small businesses on 104 Street. I do know that for several of the businesses on 104 Street there is VERY little crossover between the market demographic and their full-time 104 Street client base, and that some businesses’ average Saturday revenue is higher on non-market days by as much as 35%.

  7. RESPONSE FROM THE CITY MARKET DOWNTOWN

    Mack, you’ve been a long-time friend and patron of the City
    Market Downtown, and as a neighbour with a great connection to Edmonton  and its heartbeat and soul, we value your
    insights and perspective. There are many truths to your blog post; there are,
    however, some  inaccuracies and we’d like
    to take this opportunity to provide some clarification.

    The City Market Downtown loves its home on 104th Street. We
    started as a small market of 20 tents and today have grown to represent up to
    180 vendors and on any given Saturday 130-160 tents. We’ve grown substantially
    over the years, as has the merchant and resident  base on the 104th Street, and with this kind
    of growth we experience growing pains. As a non-profit organization, we are
    governed by our by-laws and it stands to reason that as the organization grows
    all aspects of the business from operations to staff must be reviewed, re-evaluated
    and revised. The proposed changes to the by-laws reflect that growth.

    In response to your comment:“ the City Market Downtown has called a Special Meeting
    to change the organization’s bylaws so that vendors have complete control over
    the affairs of the market…“ It was never the intention of the
    EDFMA to remove representation of the business community or the residents of
    downtown from the Board of Directors. We must point out that the
    two seats on the Board designated for business community and resident
    representation will remain, and that these seats on the Board of Directors are voting
    seats. The voices from these partners of downtown are integral to the success
    of the Board. These individuals who serve on the Board bring a perspective that
    otherwise may not be represented by the vendor base as many reside outside the
    downtown core. At the AGM in January these positions were filled, but over the
    course of a few months, the resident representative chose to resign and the
    business representative had to take a short-term leave of absence attend to a personal
    matter and will return at the end of June.

    For your readers` general knowledge, there is a process in place which
    enables any of our stakeholders to address issues with the market by submitting
    their concerns in writing to the attention of the Board Chair.

    With regards to the purchasing memberships, any vendor who
    applies to the market must be a member of the EDFMA and are required to
    purchase an annual membership. This is usually included in their Vendor
    Application. We make it possible for the general public to purchase memberships
    at the door at our AGM. Special Meetings cover one topic only, as per the
    by-laws, and only the current members are invited to attend. Memberships cannot
    be purchased at the door prior to a Special Meeting. We will have applications
    on hand for distribution, which may be submitted to the main office at: EDFMA, P.O.
    Box 1214, Main Post Office, Edmonton, AB 
    T5J 2M4.

    As a non-profit organization we are required to annually provide
    copies of the minutes from all of our meetings and to also submit a copy of our
    by-laws. These have been read, and found to be acceptable and compliant by the Alberta
    Registry. For eight years the clause within our by-laws regarding Due Notice
    has read as follows:  Due notice of all Annual General, General or
    Special Meetings shall be given to all Members in writing, at the last known
    address of the Member, at least ten (10) days prior to the meeting. Such notice
    shall state the place, date, time and purpose of the meeting.

    As we look ahead to the 2012 season, we are hoping to make
    this season the best yet for the market vendors and the merchants on 104th
    Street. We are mindful of the impact our market layout  has on the merchants and we are in the process
    of pursuing a new layout at the request of the 104th street business community.
    This will be presented to the membership before a final version will be issued to
    our business partners and the general public. There are many logistical issues
    a new layout presents, which all must be addressed at the vendor level first.

    The City Market Downtown sincerely values its relationship
    with all stakeholders and looks to resolve any issues or misunderstandings. We welcome
    your feedback for the betterment of  the
    market and its future in downtown Edmonton.

    The City Market Downtown

    1. Thank you very much for taking the time to read my post and to respond.

      I completely agree that a regular review of bylaws, policies, and practices is a healthy and important thing for any organization to do, but I don’t think that’s what is happening here. Your response makes it seem as though this was initiated by the board or the organization during the normal course of business, and that is clearly not the case. This is a special petition brought forward by an individual with a specific outcome in mind.

      Furthermore, I think there are clearly some caveats to your explanation. The community seats on the board remain if and only if there are five vendors elected, and while they may be voting seats on the board, community members cannot vote at the AGM or at Special Meetings like the one on Monday.

      I look forward to the outcome of Monday’s meeting (if it goes ahead) and I will reiterate that I hope the City Market continues to thrive.

      1. This is a very interesting response from the City Market. It is unclear to me if all board members are represented in the views of one or two individuals on the board and otherwise pushing these bylaw changes through for their own personal gain and control. For example, the new bylaws do not have any term limits for past or future board members. All responses are very calculated, and from my knowledge, much of the politics and discussion (and dysfunction) at the board level is not at all transparent to the vendors or general membership of the market. I have personal insight into this, being made aware of city market board politics over the last year. While I did not ever wish to air these issues in public and very much support the vendors rights to control their market, these bylaw changes and restriction of voting rights etc based on technicalities is not the type of inclusive organization we should have operating downtown.

        All proceedings to date with the community and businesses have been marred by the unwillingness of these two individuals to see both sides of the story and work together in cooperation to bring about solutions that are mutually beneficial. In fact, their attitude has been the complete opposite of this response in both personal and public dealings I’ve had. I find it incredibly disingenuous, but realize the response may encompass the views of the board in general and their vision for how the market should operate, not the two individuals trying to maintain control and scheme in the background at everyone’s detriment.

        I find this whole situation very unfortunate and believe the City Market’s statement above to be an ‘overstatement’ of their willingness to work with other stakeholders and really understanding the true nature of “working in the spirit of cooperation” and ensuring vibrancy downtown. I really believe if this vote passes, it will put the City Market’s future on 104 Street in jeopardy.

      2. The City Market is indeed in an interesting position when it comes to working with the residents and businesses of 104 Street. Unless they have a new location or building in their sites, I’d say the vendors should be careful about how they work with the two other groups. While there’s (seemingly) good collaboration now, I doubt the City of Edmonton would be as amicable to closing down the street if 104 businesses, and residents, felt like this was being imposed on them instead of a true partnership of the neighbourhood.

        For that reason I would say the board of the market has to include voting members from vendors, businesses, and residents, with anyone holding a membership allowed to vote at AGM or Special General Meetings.

        Monday’s meeting is one to watch, as City Market vendors decide to continue to be part of a neighbourhood, working together with everyone on 104 Street, or choose to ignore their neighbours. I hope smart, passionate people like yourself at least get a chance to have a say.

  8. So I thought I would weigh in on this one. If you do not
    know me, I am a member of the EDFMA, a vendor (I make and sell bread) and
    currently I sit on the board of directors for the Association. I would like to
    state my position on this issue and make a very special request to everyone
    that reads it.

     

    Lets start with Article 2 of the EDFMA’s by-laws:

     

    2.01       
    The objects of the Association are:

    (a)           
    To operate an Alberta-Approved Farmers’ Market in downtown
    Edmonton;

    (b)          
    To provide a viable and vibrant marketplace where rural and
    urban producers and customers share their zest for food through commerce,
    travel, education and community.

     

    In my mind this is precisely what
    has been occurring over the past eight years on 104 st. the result of eight
    years of collaboration between the vendors, residences, business owners,
    customers, and the City of Edmonton is a ‘viable and vibrant marketplace where
    rural and urban producers and customers share their zest for food through
    commerce, travel, education and community.’

                Our
    current by-laws may not be perfect but they laid the foundation of the
    community we know and love today. I will be voting against this proposal come
    Monday because I think it will create a rift between neighbors that may result
    in separation and the loss of income for the vendors and a loss of magic on the
    street.

     I do not share some of the vendors concerns about being
    controlled by non-vendors because I believe that most stakeholders share the
    objectives stated above but I am only one of many vendors. So that leads me to
    my request:

     

    I believe we are a community made
    up of all the stakeholders and as everyone surely knows, communities need lots
    of open communication. So if you are available tomorrow, PLEASE come down to
    City Hall to the farmers market and talk to the vendors who will, along side
    non-vendor members, be voting on this proposal Monday. Ask them about their
    concerns! Tell them your concerns! Over 60 vendors will be in City Hall from 10
    am to 3pm tomorrow.

     

    I believe that Monday’s vote will
    set the precedent for the future of the City Market on 104 st.

     

     

     

     

     

    1. Owen, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this. I think it is important to hear from all sides, and I am so glad that you as a board member have decided to come forward with a carefully considered opinion.

      (PS. It says edited by a moderator because I fixed the formatting of your comment.)

      1.  It should also be pointed out that the SGM was planned for the same night as the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market AGM. The City Market Board knows full well that many vendors operate at both markets and this will prevent many from showing up at the SGM and voicing their concerns. I fail to see how this is democratic or good for the organization on such a contentious issue when so many members are not represented.

    2.  I am pleased that at least one of the vendors has stepped forward to state that this resolution will not be a slam dunk. As a resident of 104 Street I was invited to sit on the EDFMA board not once but twice. I served a total of seven years. At no time can I remember the community members of the Board outnumbering the vendor representatives. This has always been a vendor oriented association but with representation, talents and commitment being shown by residents and merchants of the downtown community. Despite the predominance of vendors there has always been tension between the city folk and the country folk. The reason, I believe, is because some vendors refused to consider the real concerns of the city folk when they were expressed and truly value their skills and advice. The market cannot survive with this tension. It will be destroyed from within if this motion passes and the advocates of the resolution refuse to cooperate and collaborate with all the stakeholders.
      I am a strong and determined advocate of the city market and will fight to ensure that it remains part of the downtown, 104 street and my community. That means I will be voting against the resolution.

  9. We did our due diligence on the issue concerning Due Notice, and determined that as per your paragraph from Alberta Service we are indeed required to provide 21days notice if a Special Meeting is called with a special resolution such as changing by-laws. For this reason the Special Meeting has been postponed til mid-June in order for the EDFMA to remain compliant with the Societies Act. We have been counselled to put a freeze on all new memberships, including new vendor memberships, until after the Special Meeting.

    With regards, to the new market layout, we have committed to a 4 week trial period after which a formal evaluation will take place to determine its impact and success.

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