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Farmers’ Market Building at River Landing

Farmers’ Market Building Update (September 2019)


  • City Council has a vision to expand the use and appeal of the Farmers’ Market Building; the direction the City is pursuing is to fully utilize this community asset and animate the facility for six or more days a week including a farmers’ market component.  
  • The River Landing Concept Plan calls for a farmers’ market component at this location.  The building is not exclusive to one group in particular.
  • The current lease for the Farmers’ Market Building is $10/year, plus a contribution to the City’s Civic Buildings Comprehensive Maintenance (CBCM) Reserve to help with any capital repairs to the building. 
  • Because the lease with the current tenant was expiring, City Council last autumn directed the Administration to find a group that would be able to manage to the fullest extent, a six-day-a-week market with a focus on authentic local produce and content. That process involved what’s called a Request for Proposals (RFP).
  • The current tenant did not meet the conditions of the existing 2014 lease (six-day-a-week animation) as per City Council expectations, which led to the issuance of the RFP in October, 2018.
  • In February, 2019, the RFP was cancelled due to the need for significant repairs to the roof of the Farmers’ Market Building. This deficiency was discovered after the RFP was issued.
  • The current tenant has not been evicted as has been shared in the community. In fact, the City extended the lease of the current tenant through the 2019 growing season from May 31 until December 31, 2019.
  • In July 2019, the current tenant formally communicated to the City:
    • That its default plan (if a permanent site is not secured by 2020) is to operate an outdoor street market somewhere Downtown on Saturday/Sunday and find a location for winter indoor markets, and
    • That it would not be submitting another proposal to occupy the Farmers’ Market Building after 2019, as they want to focus on their core mandate of operating authentic farmers’ markets 2 or 3 days a week.
  • The City issued a RFP for an expert to advise the best type of roof system to be installed on the Farmers’ Market building which will require a full closure of the building.
  • The work should not affect the potential of an outdoor farmers’ market in 2020 in Market Square.
  • The Administration has been approached by potential farmers’ markets, and potential vendors expressing interest in running out of the Farmers’ Market Building and operating an animated public facility for a minimum of six days-a-week with a farmers’ market component.
The Farmers’ Market Building Update Report on the Monday, September 30, 2019 City Council Agenda - Regular Business Meeting can be found here.
History of the Farmers' Market Building

The River Landing Phase II redevelopment project was designed to enhance the sustainability of downtown by reclaiming and developing the A.L. Cole "brownfield" and surrounding area - literally the front yard of Saskatoon’s downtown and one of the main entries to core neighbourhoods.

After extensive review and public consultation, the South Downtown Concept Plan was approved by City Council in 2004. The Concept Plan is the cornerstone and framework for development for River Landing.

The redevelopment included the reclamation and conversion of an old City-owned electrical building into a farmers’ market, business centre (incubator), and village square.

Lease Negotiations

The City has had Lease and Operating Agreements with the Saskatoon Farmers' Market Cooperative Ltd. (SFMCL) for the Farmer's Market Building since April 2007.

As part of lease negotiations, City Administration met with representatives from the SFMCL on several occasions to discuss animation, usage of the space, future vision, and to ask for a business plan from SFMCL outlining their proposed approach to increase animation and activity for the next lease before reporting to Committee.

The concern with the current arrangement is that other than on market days, the Farmers’ Market Building has not achieved the animation that was expected by this point in time in the previous lease and the original concept plan for the space.

The annual rent for the Farmers’ Market Building is $10.00; SFMCL is responsible for payment of all operating costs, utilities, and property taxes for the Farmers’ Market Building.  As an aspect of the rent, the Farmers’ Market is also responsible for the maintenance reserve contribution that is required for all civic buildings (being 1.2 per cent of the new replacement value of the Farmers' Market building). 

See Highlights of Previous Lease Terms with the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market Co-operative Limited 

Site Use / Animation

The current lease outlined the Hours of Operation - The SFMCL committed to ensure the premise was operating at least between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Tuesday to Friday; Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Wherever possible, the SFMCL would provide additional hours during weekdays, particularly during the summer months.

Animation of the Site - The SFMCL committed to ensuring the building was being utilized at or near capacity.  Since 2010, the SFMCL has diversified and is an event rental facility, hosts special events, and operates a licensed commercial kitchen for rental and demonstrations.  The SFMCL has several permanent subtenants, which have fixed food service booths within the Farmers’ Market building. As well, the SFMCL continues to use, on a seasonal basis, the Market Square.