Hanna town council continued to subsidize rent for the local farmers market after a presentation from that non-profit organization at the March 12 regular meeting of council.

Councillors heard a presentation by Peggy Rehill on behalf of the Hanna Farmers Market requesting a reduced rental rate for space in the curling rink.

The Farmers Market also provided a letter from Farmers Market Manager Melissa Ray providing more information for the request, acknowledging the Town of Hanna has provided a rental subsidy in the past for the farmers market. 

The letter outlined a number of challenges facing the market, including pandemic recovery.

Rehill, who also provided councillors with a financial statement on the non-profit farmers market, noted those involved wth the farmers market wish to serve the community. 

“We didn’t make a lot of money but we’re not in it for money,” said Rehill. “We’re in it for service.”

Rehill stated the organization regularly hears from people who appreciate this service and those involved, including vendors, organizers and visitors, feel the service is worthwhile.

Rehill noted last year the farmers market had 35 different vendors from Hanna, with another 30 vendors from out of the community. 

Rehill noted that non-profit societies are offered free tables at the farmers market, and it was noted five such organizations took advantage of that opportunity; two of them were at the market every week.

Coun. Sandra Murphy stated that after visiting the farmers market herself she was disappointed by the huge space and few tables plus the dark atmosphere of the venue. Murphy asked if the curling rink is the best place to hold the farmers market.

Rehill responded the organization has looked around at other venues, but considering things like vendor and visitor access, the curling rink is the only facility that meets all needs; plus, the curling rink isn’t heavily used during the summer so it’s available when the farmers market wishes.

It was noted the farmers market doesn’t do fundraising and the Hanna Ag Society is its sponsor, a requirement for farmers markets in Alberta.

Coun. Sandra Beaudoin noted that farmers market vendors and visitors, especially out-of-towners, probably support local businesses when they visit Hanna.

Rehill agreed, noting the farmers market doesn’t usually offer a concession so vendors will likely visit Hanna’s eating establishments.

The farmers market representative noted the organization actually posted a loss in 2023, their biggest ever, stating the non-profit was very grateful that the Hanna Ag Society has helped them in the past.

After the presentation councillors discussed the request for rent subsidy.

Town Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Kim Neill told councillors that since 2021 the municipality has charged the farmers market a discounted rate for the curling rink: $324 per day if the concession is used, $232 without the concession. Neill noted later in the discussion this is about a 20 per cent discount over normal rates.

Coun. Kyle Olsen moved that the Town of Hanna offer the farmers market the same reduced rate.

Coun. Angie Warwick asked if the farmers market has a paid staff member; Neill responded yes, they do have a paid manager.

Councillors briefly discussed whether the farmers market organization could survive depending solely on volunteers.

Councillors unanimously passed the resolution to offer the Hanna Farmers Market the same reduced rental rate as in 2023.

By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 27, 2024 at 13:54

This item reprinted with permission from   East Central Alberta Review   Coronation, Alberta

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