Calgary Farmers Market loses lease at Currie Barracks

After November of 2010 the Calgary Farmers’ Market will no longer call the Currie Barracks home. The original lease on the property was set to end in October of 2009 but since it will not be up for renewal a 13-month extension was granted to help the market find a different venue. The Currie Barracks is a former military base in which the market is currently located and it is part of a plan to develop the area into a sustainable living community.

Plans for the neighbourhood coincide with a LEED (leadership in energy and environmental design) gold designation a status given out by the U.S. Green Building Council based out of Washington. This designation until a couple of years ago only extended to buildings. This was the first urban area in Canada to receive this status. The area will be developed in a way that residences recreation and consumerism meet in an environmentally conscious fashion.

Gordon McIvor vice president of public and government affairs of Canada Land Company says that the Calgary Farmers’ Market was aware of Canada Land Company’s future plans from the day that the lease began. “We were actually the ones who suggested that they come on our site to get their legs under them” says McIvor. “We told them that this was going to be a high-density residential area.”

McIvor says that the partnership was a huge success and he is pleased that the market has grown to such a successful enterprise. “It’s got people coming from all over the region this is from beyond Calgary. We’ve gotten e-mails about this from people in Red Deer and Lethbridge” he says. “They will continue to grow and they will continue to attract people but in order to do that they need a bigger parking space.”

McIvor says that when the Calgary Farmers’ Market approached his department about an extended lease the Canada Land Company was happy to make its transition smoother. “This might be a difficult announcement but we’re going to try and offer them whatever we can” adds McIvor.

The market’s possible lease expiry came into public light at the beginning of this summer. The Facebook group Save the Calgary Farmers’ Market was created in July and quickly grew to over 2000 members.

The group’s creator Nicole Bross says that she founded it when she first heard about the market’s possible relocation. “It started out pretty small. It was just me and a couple of friends and then it snowballed” says Bross.

Bross is a devoted market regular. She walks seven kilometers to and from every weekend. She says that the market is a great place to buy locally grown items and because she makes baby food for her daughter she likes being able to talk to the vendors about what she is purchasing. “You can ask the people who grow the food questions about it. The person who knows all about it is right there to talk to” says Bross.

The market houses over 80 vendors who produce their own products. Vegetables fruit meat and hand-crafted items are among a few of the things that can be purchased here.

Bross feels that the Currie Barracks is the perfect location but she is glad that the market will not be closing altogether. “I think as long as it stays open Calgary will benefit; it’s unique and there is nothing else like it in the city” she says. Regardless she still feels that it is a shame that the new development at Currie Barracks will not include the market. “To me nothing says ‘environmentally sustainable’ like a farmers’ market.“

For it’s remaining time the Calgary Farmers’ Market will remain open at 4421 Quesnay Wood Drive S.W. on Fridays and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (RT)