Location of Farmers' Market blamed for lost business Ryan Curley

In their second year operating at Lansdowne Park, vendors at the Ottawa Farmer’s Market have seen a slight increase in business, but still see major problems with its location.

Following a very successful three-year stay at Brewer Park during the Lansdowne Park redevelopment farmers, craftsmen and food cart owners have struggled in their return to Aberdeen Square, with fewer customers and decreased sales.

The issue of parking resonates with vendors, many blaming it for their decreased business. With the market’s canopied stalls nestled between the Aberdeen Pavilion and Marche Way, free parking nearby is very limited. While customers can park underground, for $1.50 per half-hour, it is often filled with sporting fans attending a Redblacks or Ottawa Fury game at TD Place Stadium. In winter, the market moves inside the long hall of the Aberdeen Pavilion.

“We’re struggling with parking at Lansdowne,” said Craig Murker, market manager for the Ottawa Farmers' Market Association.

"When you leave, you are out with a bill anywhere from six to ten dollars for the visit,"

David Best, a customer at the Farmers’ Market, sees issues with the pricing of the parking.

“When you leave, you are out with a bill anywhere from six to ten dollars for the visit,” said Best.

Murker has an idea for alleviating the parking problem. His solution is what he calls “a veggie valet”, where customers who have parked away from Lansdowne would leave their groceries with a volunteer, drive their vehicle to a pickup location nearby and have the produce loaded into their vehicle, free of charge.

Barbara Schaefer, owner of Upper Canada Heritage Meat, says her sales have not improved much in the last year, and are down 35 per cent of what they were while selling from Brewer Park. She also points to the lack of free parking to explain her drop in sales.

"Sales are down 35 per cent,"

“It’s the main reason we have fewer people here,” said Schaefer.

Schaefer says she does very well at the Saturday market in Westboro, held in Byron Park, where free parking nearby is much easier to find.

Another problem vendors and customers have is the market’s location in a very urban setting full of concrete. Schaefer prefers the park setting of the Westboro market, which is filled with grass and tress and has a neighbourly feel.

John Lubrun has been selling freshly cut flowers and homemade hot sauces at the market for the last seven years. He says his sales have dropped 30 to 40 per cent since the return from Brewer Park, with very little recovery during the new location’s second year. He blames the parking situation at Lansdowne but also praised Brewer.

Made from fresh vegetables, John Lubrun sells his hot-sauces inside the Aberdeen Pavilion in early December.

‘It was all clean and nice, it was beautiful,” said Lubrun.

A regular every Sunday at the Ottawa Farmer’s Market since it opened, Jane Deville says she preferred the market when it was at Brewer. Her reason is similar to why Schaefer prefers Westboro, the green spaces and lack of concrete.

“It was very different and just felt like a happier place,” she said leaning on her bicycle.

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Ryan Curley

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