Invermere council members heard that the downtown Invermere Farmers and Artisan Market was a smash success this past summer, during a report on the market by the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion.
The Legion, which ran the market this past summer for the first time (having taken over the market from a different operator who ran it for nearly a decade beforehand), gave the presentation during a recent council meeting, on Tuesday, November 10th.
“There’s no dispute it was quite successful for us downtown,” said Legion representative Ray Brydon, adding that over the course of the summer the downtown market had an average of 65 to 70 vendors at any given market, which included 54 full-time vendors and a rotating cast of 75 part-time vendors (only several of which would be at the market any given weekend).
The busiest weekend had almost all the full-time vendors and more than 30 of the 75 part-time vendors present, for a total of 84 vendors.
Brydon presented financial statements for the market, which is run as a non-profit organization, outlining gross income of just under $17,500; gross expenses of roughly $2,000 ($350 of which was borne by the District of Invermere, the rest borne by the Legion); and consequently, net revenue of almost $15,500.
Prior to the market, the Legion had agreed to split the revenue from the market with the district, with the Legion keeping 60 per cent and the district getting 40 per cent.
Brydon then present two cheques to the district, one for about $6,200 (the district’s 40 per cent of net revenue) and another to reimburse the district’s $350 in expenses.
The Legion has already allocated the nearly $9,300 (60 per cent of net revenue) it earned from the market to various charitable causes, which Brydon also outlined to council, including $250 for the Kinsmen Canada Day celebrations; $2,500 for the Columbia Valley Rockies community bus; $1,500 for the Legion’s monthly seniors’ luncheon; $1,000 for the Summit Youth Centre; and more than $4,000 for other Legion projects. Brydon finished by asking council to consider spending $1,500 (of the district’s 40 per cent share of net market revenue) on the monthly seniors’ luncheon, matching the Legion’s contribution from market funds to the luncheons.
“Plaudits to the Legion. We took a chance on you (when council opted to let the Legion run the market this past spring), but you took a chance on us. I was down there many times and heard nothing but positive feedback,” said Coun. Greg Anderson. “Getting this report and these financial statements, we’ve never had that from the farmers’ market before. And to have it so quickly (less than two months after the final market day of the season) and have it so clearly laid out, this is exactly what council had envisioned for the farmers’ market.”
Coun. Paul Denchuk was the lone council member to vote against letting the Legion run the market during the spring vote on the matter, but at the November 10th council meeting he congratulated the Legion on how it had run the market.
“My concern at the beginning was about the transfer from one operator to another. I don’t think it was done smoothly, but that’s water under the bridge now. And at any rate, I think the district wears that (the transition not being smooth), certainly not the Legion. The Legion did a great job,” said Denchuk.
Invermere mayor Gerry Taft conceded there had been some anxiety about the timing of the transfer from one market operator to another, with some people worried it may have an economic impact on downtown Invermere for the summer, but that the Legion’s efforts this summer put those worries to bed.
“I think we made the right decision,” said Taft. “There’s full disclosure and transparency and that’s great. We had set those parameters and deadlines with the previous operator and they were not met. The market is held on public streets, so ideally that money generated from it should come back to the public and that’s what we’re seeing.”
Council members asked Brydon about the possibility of moving the market to the main street (7th Avenue) on a regular basis.
“I personally think that would be neat, but I don’t know if I can convince the vendors of that, especially the ones who need their vehicles behind their booths,” Brydon responded. “I think it’s worth working on the idea, if council is in favour of it, since it takes the market off the back street and onto the main street.”
Taft also asked about the timing of the last market day conflicting with the Scarecrow Festival (in the past, some of the downtown market vendors had set up at the festival instead of in Invermere).
Brydon responded that the Legion had made clear it would in no way penalize vendors for choosing to set up at the festival and even offered to pay the vendors’ registration fees for the festival.
“We left the choice of where to set up that day totally up to them,” said Brydon.
At the end of the presentation, Brydon indicated the Legion intends to submit an application to run the downtown market again in 2016.