Saskatoon Farmers’ Market searches for new venue after leaky roof dampens lease renewal

The livelihood of more than 100 vendors with the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market is now up in the air and it’s all because of a leaky roof.

“It has to be replaced,” said Keith Jorgenson, vice-president of the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market Cooperative (SMFCL).

“You come in here when it rains or when the snow is melting and there is water pouring through the roof.”

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City to amend proposal for Saskatoon Farmers’ Market

Although the building may seem relatively new since the SFMCL moved in just 11 years ago, the structure is an old city electrical building from 1950 that was later retrofitted.

Ongoing condensation issues discovered during an RFP process have now dampened the likelihood of a lease renewal for the SFMCL.

The City of Saskatoon announced on Thursday that it was cancelling the RFP process that it had launched in October, in order to shut down the space for roof repairs in 2020 that are predicted to last three months.

“We’ve been doing various fixes over the years,” said Jill Cope, with the City of Saskatoon.

“But it was more significant than we first thought.”

Further investigation is needed to determine the cost of the repairs.

“We decided to close the building, fix the roof and figure out options after that.”

Awarding a lease to a tenant, given the water issues, would be unfair and bad business on the part of the city, according to Cope. This also means the city is without a tenant in that portion of the building once construction is complete.

The SFMCL was one of two applicants vying for the anchor tenant space through the RFP process.

“With the RFP process we evaluate proposals with the RFP,” Cope said.

“The roof issue is simultaneous but completely separate.”

The cooperative said they would have worked around construction if they had been awarded the lease.

“I think the cancellation of the RFP is not the preferred outcome,” Jorgenson said.

The lease with the cooperative will be extended through the 2019 growing season and the building will remain open until Dec. 31, 2019. Jorgenson said they’re grateful for the opportunity to operate within the building until then.

“It’s more likely now than before that the farmers’ market will depart the building.”

Drawing in as many as 5,000 visitors to the Riversdale neighbourhood on a hot summer’s day, Jorgenson said he’s worried about the impact this will have on local businesses in the area.

“There are very early conversations the farmers’ market has had with bids in the city about relocating those are incredibly preliminary because obviously, we were hoping to stay here,” Jorgenson said.

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