Weston’s 39 year-old farmers market will officially open its 2018 season this Saturday and there will be a few extras to the usual vendor displays. Toronto Police and Fire will be on hand as well as live music and drummers. This is the last year that the market will be operating at the UP Express parking lot on Weston Road as it will move to its new home on John Street next year.
The market’s hours are 7 am until 2 pm but this Saturday’s ‘extras’ will happen between 9 am and 1:30 pm.
This week’s letter comes from ‘Anonymous’ and comes up with an excellent idea about the Weston Farmers Market that is obvious in hindsight.
As the new Weston Hub moves closer to opening day and its new facilities are taking shape on the ground rather than on paper, it’s becoming harder to imagine the Weston Farmers Market shoehorned into its future designated space.
There are plans to have landscaping in front of the rental tower building and along the walkway to the footbridge that will eat away precious available space and although there has been a suggestion that the market be allowed to spill over onto adjacent John Street, it is clear that traders will have to scale back their stall space. This may make Weston’s market not worth the bother.
Another factor is the noise. Traders begin setting up the market from 5 am. This is a noisy process and may disturb homes overlooking the site.
What’s the solution – well, that’s proposed in the letter of the week.
“I wonder if the folks at Weston Lions Arena were asked to share their lot for the neighbourhood market?
Way back in the olden days, was it not known as the Fair Grounds?
Wouldn’t that be a nice venue – right in the river valley, away from the very tired looking Main Street area.” – Anonymous
The idea is worthy of consideration. The space is huge, further away from residences and as the arena is closed from April until October, it is a natural fit with the market. Adjacent to the parking lot is nature in all its glory, a splash pad, playground, tennis courts, soccer field and during July and August, the open air pool is open, there adding to the festive atmosphere. As an added bonus there is plenty of parking.
The Weston Farmers Market was promised that its brand new location in the Weston Community Hub would be ready for the 2018 season. Unfortunately, owing to construction delays, the site is not ready.
As a result, Weston Village BIA Chair, Masum Hossain requested the use of the UP Express parking lot for one more year. Metrolinx gave a firm no, stating that lower fares, have boosted passenger numbers and greatly increased the demand for parking. Compounding the problem, the Weston Park Baptist Church which leases its parking lot to Metrolinx on weekdays, closes its own lot to the general public on weekends.
Until three weeks ago, there was a standoff. Masum then asked local MPP Laura Albanese to see what she could do. Ms Albanese was somehow able to appeal to the better nature of Metrolinx and as a result, the market will occupy the UP Express lot for one more year. Without this intervention, Masum assures me that the Weston Farmers Market could not have operated in 2018.
The BIA has hired a new market manager. She is experienced and dynamic corporate event manager, Jennifer Forde who also happens to perform the same duties for Nathan Phillips Square Farmers Market. Jennifer is hoping to expand the customer and vendor base of our market so keep coming back to check out the new stalls in the weeks to come.
One familiar face was missing this week, that of Joe Gaeta of Gaeta Farms. Joe comes up from Beamsville every week but mechanical issues caused him to miss opening day.
Correction: In the article, I spelled Masum Hossain’s name incorrectly. This has been corrected and apologies to Mr. Hossain for the error.
Churchill once said that, “History is written by the victors”. An article in UrbanToronto.ca, (basically a public relations organ for the local real estate and development industries) tells a sanitized version of the background story of the soon to be opened Weston Hub.
The article’s author, Dean Macaskill, has been involved in Toronto real estate since 1980 and was with the company given the GO Station parking lot listing back in 2012. The land was put on the market by the Toronto Parking Authority and according to Macaskill, the 5 offers received on the 1.42 acre site were, ‘at rather depressed pricing levels’.
What’s not mentioned in the article are thoughts at the time that the land belonged to the old town of Weston and that it should not be sold. Also, unlike the wealthy Wychwood Barns neighbourhood which received close to $20 million from the City for their Artscape project, poor old Weston received essentially nothing.
The message seems to be that no one wanted to invest in Weston until this development came along and since that time, developers have been falling all over themselves to buy into our community. He neglects to mention that his listing stated, “Area Is Undergoing Significant Change With Other High Rise Condominiums Planned In The Immediate Area.” Also missing in action is any mention of the 370 rental apartments and 40,000 square feet of storage units that came as part of the deal. The 8000 square foot space devoted to the cultural hub seems rather ungenerous by comparison. Another unmentioned issue of contention is the tight space given to the Farmers Market .
Now that the Hub is nearing completion, we’ll all have to make the best of it and hope it’s a success – but it could have been so much better no matter what shine is put on it.
Just to cheer you up, here’s a Metro Morning interview with Artscape’s Tim Jones talking to CBC’s Matt Galloway recently on the same topic.
Weston’s BIA has a couple of jobs advertised on its site and one is that of Manager of the Farmers Market. Keeping the lid on this (quite rightly) feisty and vocal group of traders will be a tough one so the successful applicant had better start training asap. Here’s the job posting:
Submission Deadline: Friday, Feb 23, 2018
Start Date: Mon, April 30, 2018
Job Type: Contract
Compensation: Commensurate with Experience
The Market Manager is responsible for the coordination of the weekly, Saturday morning, market as well as the day to day operations throughout the week. The Market Manager works closely with the Board of Directors of the Weston BIA (the owners of the market) to carry out their responsibilities and is provided support by them as needed. The market is held outdoors and operates from the second Saturday in May to the last Saturday in October from 7.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. and the position is renegotiated at that time.
- Coordinate the weekly Market on Saturdays, including set-up and take down, vendor placement and stall fee collections.
- Manage vendors, including recruitment and retention, mail out of vendor contracts; resolve any disputes or concerns among vendors and/or customers, and ensuring vendor compliance to Market Rules and Regulations and health regulations.
- Attend bi-monthly board meetings to provide market updates and act as the liaison between vendors and the board (presenting written comments and/or complaints to be addressed).
- Manage Market communications, including responding to market inquiries (e.g. e-mail and phone calls) and media requests in a timely manner.
- Market Promotion including signeage, posters, advertisements in the local newspaper and social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).Events
- Coordinate special events, activities and/or programs at the market (e.g. official opening day celebrations, Corn Roast, Harvest/Halloween, kid’s activities, music and other entertainment.
Skills and Qualifications Required:
- Strong leadership, and interpersonal skills and the ability to work with multiple stakeholders in a professional manner.
- Excellent time management and organizational skills.
- Experience and knowledge in food service management, food safety and regulatory requirements for food sales at Temporary Food Markets is an asset.
- Experience working with a volunteer board.
- Previous Farmers’ Market Management experience, although not a pre-requisite, would be considered an asset.
- Knowledge of the Weston community and key stakeholders preferred.
- Good working knowledge of social media advertising, flyer and content for advertisements in newspapers and other.
Submit your Application and Cover letter to the Board of Management of the Weston BIA at: email@example.com or mail to: 4 John Street Unit 3, Toronto, Ontario, M9N 1J3 by Friday, Feb 23rd at 5.00 p.m.
Only candidates chosen for an interview will be contacted.
This Saturday, September 30 the Weston Farmers Market will be holding a Harvest Celebration between 9:00 and 12 noon in the UP Express / GO Train parking lot. Planned events include:
- Cupcake and pumpkin decorating
- Balloon artistry
- Old Fashioned Halloween games
- Prizes and loot bags
- An old-time fiddler
Saturday promises to be sunny and 16° which will be perfect to get everyone in the mood for Fall after this stretch of hot weather.
Are you artistic? The Farmers Market is looking for volunteers, to decorate pumpkins and other items for this coming Saturday, Sept 30th from 9.00 a.m. to 12 noon to help. We also need some help on Friday afternoon, Sept 29th to decorate some larger pumpkins. Students will receive community hours for helping out.
For more information, call Marion at 241-249-0691.