Who knew starting up a farmers’ market would be so complicated?
The Ottawa Farmers’ Market — the group that runs the weekly market at Lansdowne Park — wants to bring a weekly market to Stittsville starting this spring. The plan is to bring a Friday market to Village Square Park (corner of Stittsville Main & Abbott) that would run from 12:00pm-6:00pm from June to October.
The plan received wide support via a petition campaign last summer. The park has plenty of green space and pathways, it’s accessible, and has hosted similar events before. There’s only one problem: the park’s zoning doesn’t permit a farmers’ market.
According to Councillor Shad Qadri: “The subject lands are currently zoned O1- Open Space. It is proposed to rezone the lands to add an exception to permit a farmers’ market. The proposed market in Stittsville planned to operate on Fridays between June and October, noon to 6:00 pm. There would be 10 to 20 vendors at this location. Operation of the markets will be controlled through agreements between Ottawa Farmers’ Markets and the City of Ottawa.”
“O1” zoning allows for community gardens, environmental preserves, education areas, and parks. A few other O1 zones in the city have already been altered, creating subzones that permit the markets. Over the next few months, a zoning bylaw amendment for Village Square Park will make its way through the city’s planning committee (March 28), agriculture and rural affairs committee (April 6), and then City Council, likely in April.
(At the same time, new zoning is being proposed for two other markets as well: one at the Riverview Park and Ride in the south end, and the Byron Farmers’ Market in Westboro, which has been operating despite the O1 zoning for the past five years.)
The city is inviting the public to comment on the proposal before January 31. You can email planner Carol Ruddy at email@example.com.
A few people have asked if there’s enough parking near Village Square for a farmers’ market. There is plenty. There’s on-street parking on both sides of Abbott, and a large municipal parking lot on the west side of Stittsville Main, about one block away. You’ll also see a lot of people walking and cycling to the market. There haven’t been any parking issues during yearly Arts in the Park event, and that’s much larger than the farmers’ market will be.
Why a Friday market, rather than the weekend? There are a lot of markets in Ottawa already on Saturday and Sunday, including in Carp and Kanata. There are only so many vendors to go around, and by holding the market on Friday, we’ll likely see a greater quality and quantity of vendors in Stittsville. I would not be surprised to see the organizers extend the hours until 7pm or 8pm on Friday, and if it really takes off you might see a Saturday or Sunday in future years.