The City of Hamilton City Manager’s Office says the Hamilton Farmers’ Market vendors do not qualify for COVID rent assistance as municipal tenants.
The federal government provided the City of Hamilton hundreds of millions of dollars in COVID funding, including funds to provide rent support to municipal tenants in line with the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy program.
Mississauga, Cambridge, London, Guelph, and Kitchener are nearby municipalities that used their federal COVID funds for this intended purpose.
The Hamilton City Hall claims these municipalities are engaged in bonusing contrary to the Municipal Act.
In a report to Council this week, City Hall states Hamilton’s municipal market is uniquely different from every other municipal market.
The City claims that because the Hamilton Market has a Board of Directors, it is entirely independent of the municipality. City Hall says other markets are city-owned facilities with city staff who directly report to their municipality.
All decisions by the Hamilton Market’s Board of Directors is subject to Council approval.
The Market Board voted to use Market reserve funds to provide rent relief in line with other markets.
Hamilton City Council vetoed the decision.
The City Manager’s Office insists the Market is not a City of Hamilton operation.
The Market is a City of Hamilton municipal corporation. It operates in a City of Hamilton facility. Vendors pay their rent to the City of Hamilton. The Market managing director is a staff member in the City Manager’s Office. The Market Manager is a City of Hamilton manager. Market staff are all City of Hamilton employees. All decisions in the Market are subject to the approval of Hamilton City Council. The City of Hamilton does all Market spending.
The City continues to charge full rent to other small businesses renting in municipal facilities.
City Council provided a $500,000 bailout to the private operator of the Mohawk 4Ice Centre.
City Hall stated this was different because the ice rink was closed due to provincial regulations. Four market vendors were closed by provincial regulations, the City says those vendors are required to pay full rent for the closure period.
Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr, who no longer attends Market meetings, voted against rent relief for Market vendors.
Only Ward 7 Councillor Esther Pauls, who sits on the Market Board, voted to support the vendors.
This is a bit perplexing given the impact Covid 19 has had on the Hamilton Farmers’ Market. Last years conditions ( tents/homelessness. and I personally witnessed violence within the tent community that closely surrounded the market area) made shopping there undesirable. I hope a reasonable agreement can be made because I really value what the market has to offer.