Market Square has a lot to offer

By Dave Johnson, Tribune Staff

Welland Market Square advisory committee presented its annual report to council Tuesday. Committee chair Lyle Packham spoke about what the market has to offer.

Welland Market Square advisory committee presented its annual report to council Tuesday. Committee chair Lyle Packham spoke about what the market has to offer.

Did you know you can get your bicycle repaired or knives sharpened while shopping at Welland Market Square?
Or that you can buy wine, and vegan and gluten-free items?

Lyle Packham, chair of the Market Square advisory committee, presented those facts and more during his annual report to Welland city council Tuesday night.

Packham said the farmers’ market turns 110 this year, and that it’s a place to come together and meet new people in the community or catch up with old friends.

“It’s a family tradition to come to the market. We’re seeing more and more young people coming … they want to know where their food is coming from,” he said.

“People are staying for 30 minutes to an hour on average.”

Packham said his committee is trying to find ways to extend the amount of time people spend at the farmers’ market, and attract new visitors as well.

Last year, concerts were held and Packham said they were very successful. They’ll be back again this year as another tool to attract people and keep them around longer.

“We hold six events a year and new this year in honour of Canada’s 150th, we’re having an old-fashioned corn roast and children will be able to make their own ice cream,” he said, adding another event will see old farm equipment on display in August.

Market Square is on five different bus routes, council heard, which, Packham said, is great for residents who don’t have access to vehicles.

Ward 3 Coun. John Chiocchio said the marketing being carried out seems to be working, and asked if the market is full at prime time.

“Are spots still available? Are the vendors who are coming happy and satisfied?” Chiocchio asked.

Packham said a couple of weeks ago there were not too many vendors, but last week the market was full.

Cassandra Magazzeni, Welland’s arts and culture co-ordinator and Market Square staff liaison, said vendors return after the May 24 weekend, and the only spaces left are parking lot spaces.

“The vendors have the first right of refusal and most do come back,” she said.

Packham said a number of the 80 vendors are generational, and that May to October is the busiest time of year at the year-round market. He said people aren’t always aware that the market is open all year.

In his report, Packham said security cameras have been installed throughout Market Square to deter vandalism and graffiti.

Chiocchio asked whether issues around the 98-year-old heritage-designated building were being addressed and whether there was funding to carry out the work.

Magazzeni said rotting wood was being taken care of  and that some doors were being replaced as well.

“We have a heritage contractor doing that work,” she said.

Packham said air flow in the building is still something that needs to be addressed. He said when it’s full in the summer, the heat is unbearable.

“I’d like to see a cooling system or exhaust fans,” he said, adding exhaust fans would be his preference as they would be less expensive.
Twitter: @DaveJTheTrib