Hamilton councillors recently agreed not to enforce a zoning bylaw violation on a proposed farmers market operated by Ojo Eat Local food truck owner Joanne Turnell, while the city reviews its official plan.
Turnell closed her farmers market June 21 after city officials informed her it violated the city’s bylaw, but the market could be up and running by next month or September.
“This has been very stressful for me,” she said. “(The city) has given us a year. I’ve already called my vendors.”
Turnell, who was the Ancaster farmers market manager for a couple of years, but left last fall to concentrate on her food truck operations, opened the market this spring as part of a plan to create a year-round “agri-food hub” that would include her food truck, a certified commissary kitchen and education presentations.
“This is such a win-win,” said Turnell, who argued her year-round market wouldn’t compete with the Wednesday-only Ancaster farmers market that ends its season in October. “The farmers market is an extension of Ojos.”
Her operation was open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
But the1632 Wilson Street location wasn’t zoned to allow a farmers market. Once Turnell discovered that city bylaw officials were going to enforce the bylaw, she attempted to get the city to rezone the property – located across from the Ancaster Fairgrounds – or at the very least back off on their enforcement.
Hamilton’s farmers markets are located on property that is either zoned institutional or in public open spaces, a recommendation from the Community Food Security Stakeholders Committee that was approved by councillors a number of years ago.
“We disagree with this,” Turnell, said. “This is not consistent with other farmers markets. The location is ideal.”
Councillors suggested Turnell relocate the market, an idea she quickly dismissed.
Marty Hazell, director of parking and bylaw enforcement, agreed to Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson’s suggestion to suspend enforcement of the zoning bylaw until city planning staff’s review of the official plan is completed sometime next year.
“There is interest to having two farmers market in Ancaster,” said Turnell. “There is a whole demographic that wants one. It would be nice to have a food hub.”