By Ryan King
Community News Reporter
PORT AUX BASQUES – Enterprising individuals frequently set up shop just across from the Dr. Charles L. LeGrow Health Centre where vendors not only offer up products, but often traffic congestion as well.
Town Manger Leon MacIsaac said that mobile vendors are required to obtain a permit from the town and are given suggestions about where to set up.
“Mobile vendors are required to obtain a permit from the Town in order to sell their products within the municipality. Mobile vendors are currently requested to use the parking lot in the area of the Railway Heritage Museum.”
However the vendors can set up shop on private property, such as the parking area across from LeGrow which is owned by the Lions Club.
“While the Town can not prevent a mobile vendor from establishing their operation on private property, they are required to receive prior approval from the Town. Failure to do so may result in the cancellation of the permit.”
However there may be a solution on the horizon. In an effort to provide a more attractive spot in the town to sell goods, plans are being made for a farmer’s market.
“Town staff are currently exploring avenues to set up a Farmer’s Market area adjacent to the Railway Heritage Museum building. The proposed site would provide a sheltered display area for vendors.”
MacIsaac said that no other locations are being considered for the market’s location.
“Not at this time.”
While a location like the old town depot downtown might seem like a feasible alternative location, MacIsaac explained that there are logistical reasons why it’s not currently viable.
“Well that’s still quite some time from before the site would be developed. So that wouldn’t be in consideration at the moment either.”
In the meantime, the town will be taking measures to combat some of the traffic issues arising from the presence of mobile vendors.
“The Town will be installing ‘No Parking’ signage in a number of problem areas to reduce traffic issues from vending operations.”
MHA Andrew Parsons (Burgeo – La Poile), Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology (IET), shared that this is not the first time the idea of a farmer’s market has been suggested, but he has taken an interest in this current attempt.
“I thought that it really is something that we could support in the local area, and then after discussing the idea with others, I think it’s something that people bought into,” said Parsons.
Not only will the farmer’s market benefit vendors, but it will also allow greater participation from the community.
“We know that there’s local – I’ll call them hobby farmers – that want somewhere to sell their produce. We have others that perhaps are a bit more commercialized, and when you have a dedicated market site, basically that’s going to allow us to expand the opportunity for vendors to participate. It’s going to make it easier for people, for constituents and people, to take part in it,” said Parsons. “I think it basically allows for economic development and it’s going to allow for growth.”
The development of the market is a process that is currently being worked on between Parsons, Town of Port aux Basques Economic Development Strategist Shauna Strickland, and local IET Development Officer Bruce Billard.
“My department would actually have some input in this. So we’re working through the process. We’ve been doing it for some months now, also talking to the councillors and the mayor on it. So our goal is to see something up and running and in place for the 2022 season,” said Parsons.
Parsons said similar markets have taken off elsewhere and can act as a springboard for other ventures.
“I used to see it in Fredericton when I lived there, down in St. John’s, they’ve grown and grown, and it’s a really awesome thing,” said Parsons. “I think once you get started and people see it, you’ll get more ideas and opportunities. And again, it’s just a way to bring local vendors, local business, and producers together in an environment that hopefully makes it easier for them to show their wares, display, and to sell.”
The market will serve to add to the events that are being planned for 2022, particularly Come Home Year.
“I will say that apparently there was a trial community market that was organized some time ago and it had good attendance by both the vendors and the purchasers, or consumers we’ll say. So, like I say, the work is ongoing and hopefully we’ll see something up and running,” he said. “I think we’re going to have a big year this year, 2022, between provincial come home years, the local come home years. Anything we can do to make it even better, and I think this is one thing that will.”