Red Deer city council will discuss on Tuesday making the Red Deer Public Market move from the parking lot in front of the Pidherney Centre and Servus Arena to another downtown location.
City of Red Deer administration is recommending not negotiating a new land lease with operator Patrick Moffat for the market’s usual site but instead encouraging him to relocate before starting the market up again this spring.
The Red Deer Curling Club officials feel having the market on their doorstep every Saturday morning through the spring, summer and fall hinders full use of their facility for hosting major events.
But market operator Moffat doesn’t want to move from what he considers an ideal, central, accessible location. He noted the market lost vendors every time it’s had to relocate in the past, and has taken time to rebuild.
Moffat believes it’s possible for the two operations to co-exist at that location. He maintains the upcoming removal of the aging Kinex Arena would free up plenty of unobstructed access to the Pidherney Centre from the rear.
Since the market and the Red Deer Curling Club haven’t been able to resolve their space conflict, and the club can’t relocate while the market can, a report to city council advises city officials work with Moffat to find another location
Moving the market “would create a different draw in our downtown core… The DBA has indicated they would be highly supportive of this option,” states the report — while acknowledging the city cannot control where a private business chooses to relocate.
The public market has operated in Red Deer from May to October for more than 50 years and is a beloved feature of the city. It was named second largest farmer’s market in Canada in 2013.
While a private business, “it’s more than that. It is a katimavik,” or city gathering spot, added Moffat, who takes issue with suggestions in the city report that the Servus Arena can’t hold events while the market is happening on Saturday mornings.
He noted hockey games and practices happen all the time while the market is underway.
City Council previously directed administration to allow the license agreement with the market owner to expire in fall 2021 and to explore other potential locations. There is now no land lease agreement for the market this spring.
The city report states that multiple alternative downtown options were identified, “and though city staff have worked with the market owner on a change of location since January 2021, an agreement has not been reached.”
The Gary W. Harris Celebration Plaza and Canada 150 Square in Capstone were identified as other possible market locations.
But Moffat said neither site has enough space for the market and customer parking.
The only alternative that might work, he said, is to consider returning to the Memorial Centre parking lot, where the market had moved while the Servus Arena construction took place. But he noted a land lease agreement there would have to suit the city and two school divisions.
Sarah Tittemore, the city’s general manager of community services said, “The city continues to support a regular downtown market in a location that is better suited, supports unrestricted access to city facilities year-round, and aligns with the new Major Event Strategy, which aims to position Red Deer as a premier tourism and event destination in Canada.”
The public portion of the council meeting begins at 1 p.m. on Tuesday.