Wednesday, April 16, 2008

It's up for sale?

Close to the centre of my little city of Fredericton is a special place that opens it's wares every Saturday morning all year long.......Boyce Farmer's Market. Like many towns and cities, it is where people congregate to buy locally grown or locally created products. Farmers from up and down the valley rely on the Market to sell their goods to the crowds who make a point of starting their weekend at this downtown location since 1951 when the land was donated by Walter Boyce for this very purpose. Market vending has been going on in this city since the early 1800's in different locales all within walking distance of the present location. It has always been a key component of the best that Fredericton and the Saint John River Valley have to offer.

Boyce Farmer's Market is also the place where vendors test the waters with new products which include organically grown produce to fancy cupcakes to hemp clothing to jewelry and in fact this particular market is a perfect place to find out if your business plan is viable. Several small business have begun at a small stall over a stretch of Saturday mornings. Local authors, artisans, cheesemakers, knitters, and even jugglers are enthusiastic players that add richness to the fabric which continues to ensure that the farmers are the heart and soul, the raison d'etre of this community.

It is the historical touchstone of this community. It is the crossroads chosen by the residents that pulls together people from all corners of the area..............urban, rural, acadmic, blue collar, political,, artists, musicians, tourists, babies, families, entrepreneurs, students, kids, politicians. Arguably, it is THE year round tourist attraction in the city. The Boyce Market represents the merging of the Saint John River Valley in a way that nothing else does.
But, guess what? It's up for SALE!
It's no wonder that people around here are both worried and angry that there is a possibility of ruining such a remarkable historical establishment. Yesterday, York Development, owners and landlord of the Boyce Market, announced that they are planning to put the place up for sale. They are not interested anymore in managing the property as they have set their sites on the ever expanding possibilities in the nursing home "industry" now that the provincial government is opening up the $$ coffers to build more of them.

The City of Fredericton, presently in the throes of a municipal election has turned down the offer of being the first to bid on it. Not interested they have said.........they are into too many other projects right now to even consider it. So, it's going to be up for grabs for anyone with the cash. This piece of downtown property has the potential to be a KA-CHING goldmine for some real estate developer. For $1.5 million bucks, the humble buildings could easily be torn down in favour of a condo development with a blink of a greedy eye.

Granted the place sits idle most of the week, except for the odd event in the evening. It's used as a parking lot for civil servants from Monday to Friday which must bring in some money. From my vantage point I can't imagine the place brings in a truckload of money. So, why would anyone in their right mind fork out that much money when it would really only be considered a good deed? It has to be viable, but I believe it can be if dedicated people rallied to help develop a business plan to use the premises when it is not being utilized on Saturday mornings.

This is one issue which the people of this Valley can't sit back and allow someone else to take it on. Markets represent community........ ideally, they are an example of grassroots cooperative interactions. It's the basis for the very basics of economics. Everyone needs to take ownership, to speak out that this is an untouchable commodity........ priceless in value, necessary for our downtown core to retain any sense of vibrancy. Our elected officials, who are all up for re-election are being extremely myopic if they think that the only role for them would be to buy the place. Their role is to invite many key players to a planning meeting to LEAD this change in order to ensure our Market remains exactly where Walter Boyce wanted the very heart of our town.

Our Market needs to be tied into the BIG picture planning already in play. We need to look at HOW we can retain it's integrity while moving forward with viable ideas that would support it's vibrant vitality. This can't be left to a handful of people behind closed doors. This has to be an integrated community driven initiative that represents exactly what our Market represents......a pulling together of all the grassroot people from all facets of this community.
Game ON! I'm more than ready to get involved. I'm FULL of ideas! How about YOU?


Charles LeBlanc said...

Very good blog!!! Traffic heading your way!!!!!

Barbara(aka Layla) said...


I've heard you talk about the Farmer's Market and know how special it is to you. How sad that its in jeopardy of being sold! If the other residents there have even half the passion and tenacity as you do for this import part of your community - I have no doubt it will be saved!!

Shaz said...

This just shits me Dana!!
As usual money talks. The same thing happened in Cairns when I lived there and no amount of protest stopped that project it was really sad.
I truly hope you have more luck ;)

Brad Woodside said...

If the board of directors do not have the time to dedicate to the market they should find a board that will. There should be no exchange of money. Period. The people of Fredericton will not see the market shut down.

Brad Woodside

Spinks said...

Is that really Brad Woodside? A bit of passing the buck if it is.

nbt said...

Is that the same market that shut out that entrepreneur who sold lots of Samosas?

Awareness said...

Charles...thanks.....oh, and not an Irving blogger!!

Layla....It is a very special place to many which is why I believe a resolution will be found.

Hey Shaz........the very idea of it being tampered with is beyond my comprehension. it is such an integral part of this community.

Welcome Mayor Woodside.... I am pleased to read this, and would be more than happy and willing to be involved in anyway I can. I heard Mr. Wilkins speak on the CBC this morning. Based on the information he provided on the history of the Market etc, I felt much more hopeful that the original agreement etc would be reviewed etc.
I appreciate you taking the time to leave me a comment. I look forward to hearing and reading your further thoughts in the upcoming days.
ps. good luck in the election.

spinks.....I'm presuming. The City can help in organizing a new board to oversee the market. This is a good way to lead this issue. It's good to know that NO money will exchange hands.

NBt........yessiree it is. Not a dull moment with the market.

Rainbow dreams said...

I think it is so sad when things like this happen. I hope it does focus thoughts and ideas and in fact bring a new energy and life into it, although I know it won't be without a whole heap of work in the process...

Baby-Sweet-Pea said...

I can't imagine the market not being there. I used to sell eggs there for a few years when I was a teenager and now I take my little girl there. It will be a real shame if the market is not maintained; for the people who enjoy the various items and especially for those who supplement their income by selling their goods.

Canuckguy said...


Awareness said...'s a bit of a shake up, and who knows, maybe it will turn out to be much better for the farmers and vendors in the long run. right now, as with any discussion of change, the anxiety is felt for sure. I believe there are many who would be willing to put some time and effort into, dare I write the word....."visioning" so that Boyce Market becomes even more successful as a friendly destination for locals and tourists.
In the 20 years I've been living in Fredericton there aren't many Saturdays I've missed......I love the place, and being able to buy and to support local people. But, I also know there has been some growly feelings about the way things are managed....and it seemed last summer that the numbers were never felt as crowded. So, I think it could use a bit of a shake up to help put bigger smiles on people's faces.

baby sweet-pea.....i know how you feel. I do believe it will work out. But, I believe private citizens must get involved in the discussions and planning and not leave it simply to one particular group to decide. This is EVERYONE'S market. We own it, we own the issue....

Canuckguy....hope you passed the test.....or was the test for me? good to see you again. :)

Charles LeBlanc said...

WOW!!!! The Mayor left a comment in an Irving blog???

I got to have a chat with that Boy!!!


You can tell by his style of writing that it was indeed Brad.

Good for him....