News / Edmonton

Growing local business: Edmonton to make it easier for more public markets to open

Changes to come after community groups found the current rules too challenging to navigate

McCauley Market Manager Amy Hayduk, left, and 124 Grand Market Director Kirsta Franke, are pictured in this file photo.

Kevin Tuong / For Metro

McCauley Market Manager Amy Hayduk, left, and 124 Grand Market Director Kirsta Franke, are pictured in this file photo.

Edmonton could see more farmers markets take root next summer, as the city works to weed out the red tape that stops vendors from setting up shop.

In a report heading to the urban planning committee Friday, city planners say they want to clarify regulation for small markets.

“We want to grow small businesses and grow the local economy,” said City Planner Calvin Chan. “It’s also social incentive, so we bring communities together to these vibrant spaces.”

The move was prompted by complaints from Edmonton’s business improvement associations, who told councillors last October that opening up new markets was fraught with complications.

Kirsta Franke, founder and market director of the 124 Grand Market on 124 Street, said the process is bogged down by red tape.

Much of the confusion stems from two different types of market licenses.

In Edmonton, some markets are sanctioned by the province, while others don’t have provincial licensing.

The difference is that provincially approved markets only need one business license to cover all of its artisans, while markets that don’t have provincial approval require every single vendor to get a business license from the city.  

On top of that, vendors working in Alberta-approved markets can make their food products at home, while those working elsewhere need to prepare them in a commercial kitchen that’s approved by Alberta Health Services. Both, however, require health permits.

“We’d definitely like to see these rules streamlined for vendors and businesses, so we can make these things successful,” Franke said.

So here’s how Edmonton could fix it, explained Chan.

He said the city could look at only requiring one “umbrella” business license from a market so all vendors would be covered. The city could also cut licencing fees for individual vendors, he added.

“There’s a lot of options to look at, so we don’t want to restrict it to one or the other,” he said. “The continual dialogue with groups will be helpful.”

The city hopes to have new rules in place for the 2018 vendor season, which kicks off in late spring.

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