Trail’s Incredible Farmers’ Market keeps getting bigger and better, and organizer Gina Ironmonger attended the city’s Governance and Operations Committee meeting July 4 to ensure it keeps trending that way.
On behalf of the market, Ironmonger presented a proposal that would make it easier for bakers, food makers and growers to meet the growing demand and enhance food security.
“As the market has grown, we have increased demand for locally grown and produced food,” said Ironmonger. “So we are here to request to use the Trail Memorial Centre’s kitchen for a commercial community kitchen for local food production and processing.”
With the city’s approval of a four-year lease, the market can access a grant of $100,000 from Agriculture Canada over the next two years to install infrastructure and upgrades to the kitchen, in exchange for free use of the facility.
“It (the application) must be infrastructure specific, be community driven and improve access to healthy and nutritious food for Canadians for food security.”
The market has experienced rapid expansion in the past two years when declared an essential service. Market vendors currently serve between 1,200 to 3,000 customers at each market and between 4,500 and 5,500 customers at the special markets.
The kitchen, located adjacent to the Cominco gym, is ideal for creating an incubator that would help ensure a safe and sanitary environment, reduce financial barriers, and help local food producers grow and prosper.
“A big need in the region is to process and produce and preserve food, while acting as a low risk test and distribution channel,” Ironmonger reasoned. “The arena kitchen is perfect. Number one it exists, is under utilized, so why recreate it. With minimal upgrades it is ready to go.”
Coun. Eleanor Gattafoni-Robinson queried how much extra work would be required from city staff.
Ironmonger assured her that market users would ensure that the work, cleaning etc. would be done by them.
However, Coun. Colleen Jones pointed out that an ongoing obstacle is the damaged kitchen floor that requires fixing.
Recreation director Trisha Davison said it was not on the priority list for the city to fix, and was not certain when it would be addressed.
Chief administrator Colin McClure asked if they could delay their application for another funding stream, but Ironmonger said the application deadline is on July 15 and the last of its kind.
“We are at the end of the funding terms, so this is the last two year funding intake,” she said. “We are looking at other funding, but you just never know, and this one looks pretty good.”
Mayor Lisa Pasin suggested they make a motion to defer to city staff for more information to discern impacts, cost overruns and further upgrades, then reconvene with Ironmonger for a meeting prior to the deadline.
After much discussion regarding the facility, caterers and events, liability and coverage, council voted unanimously to accept the motion.
“I can speak on behalf of all of council that it’s a laudable effort that you’re putting in and something quite unique and needed,” said committee chair Coun. Sandy Santori.
”Hopefully we can come up with all the solutions that we need to.”