NEW MARKET-Lorne Daniel

Push on for year round market in Red Deer

Farmer's market czar Dennis Moffat cautions there could be problems

A group of Red Deerians, calling themselves the Year Round Public Market Committee, is promoting a year round market for the City. And they’re asking the public for some input at a public meeting tomorrow.

Lorne Daniel, a Red Deer businessman, writer and founder of Rethink Red Deer, and a committee member, says, “I think it (a year round market) would be a great development for a growing community and I think Red Deer is ready for it. A good market has many different elements; coffee places, a variety of shops, artistic displays and such. It’s very good for local business, especially small business. Ideally a year round market would have a kind of a village feel to it, where you could go to have a coffee and see who’s there.”

Another member of the committee is downtown businessman and candidate for Red Deer City Council Paul Harris. He says, “A lot of people have come into the store recently saying we really need a year round market. People don’t just want a place to buy carrots, they want a place to meet people, to get together. They miss it in the off season.”

Harris notes that a new year round market, which has been recommended in various cultural and development reports for Red Deer over the years, would not replace the current, very popular, seasonal market, “because it works,” and should continue.

That market is celebrating its 40th year of operation and was started and is still managed by Dennis Moffat, a former art teacher and city councillor. It runs on Saturdays from Victoria Day weekend to Thanksgiving weekend.

When asked about a new market Moffat said, “I don’t think competition is a bad thing. It could be a good thing. But you have to watch out. The grocery stores might not like the competition. A year round market won’t always have fresh produce and it could become more of a flea market. I’d be very supportive, but there could be problems, it’s (starting a new market) not that easy to do.”

A possible location for a year round market is the old bus barns in the Riverlands, in the old civic yards west of downtown. Daniel says the old bus barns could work because it would provide shelter in the winter and there’s lots of room nearby for things like an outdoor market and parking. There could also be shops and professional offices located nearby.

Harris says, “We’re extending an invitation to the public to come in on this and help figure out the next step to make this happen. We don’t know what needs to be done, but there’s a lot of interest in the issue.”

The committee is hosting an informal meeting tomorrow at 5 p.m. downtown at the Scott Block, 4816 – Gaetz (50th) Ave.

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