February 2, 2021
There are changes coming to the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market. In mid-March, the Market will move, but not far, and will operate out of Pavilion 22 in the historic Halifax Seaport District. This is a heated building with full amenities and a similar layout for customers and vendors. In the summer, it will operate in a dedicated outdoor space as an open-air market. It will continue to operate as a weekend farmers’ market, much like it has for most of its 270-year history.
It is no secret that the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market has always struggled as a seven-day-per-week market, and with COVID-19, the situation has only gotten worse. We are looking at a second year of potentially zero cruise passenger traffic, reduced summer tourism traffic and fewer downtown office workers. These are the same issues that are affecting restaurants and other businesses that rely on tourism and people visits. With health restrictions in place, a lot of what people love to do at the market – hang out on the bleachers, grab a bite to eat, have a coffee and people watch – are no longer options.
You may remember about a year ago, we set out to find an independent tenant/operator to take over daily operation. We were hopeful we could find someone to create an urban market hall during the week, with a great weekend market. Things were going well, and then COVID-19 took the wind out of our sails. We had to close, but we started a phased reopening as soon as we could, starting with curbside pick-up followed by an outdoor market until we were able to get both customers and vendors back into the building safely, and we have worked hard to keep it open through the second wave of COVID-19. Though it all, we continued to work toward finding a solution that would create a sustainable business model to keep the market open because everyone wants to see the market flourish.
The solution involves two parts which are mentioned briefly above. We will create a great outdoor open-air market in the warm months that is vibrant and active with a festival feel, something that people will really enjoy. It will be under a dedicated structure that will be permanent, with all the necessary amenities to make it work. This is a model that is very successful in European countries and we think this will be an excellent fit for Halifax.
During the winter months, when there are no cruise ships calling, we will repurpose our cruise pavilion, right beside the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, which has a similar footprint to the existing market, great harbour views and more parking spaces for customers.
We are working on how we can make sure people know where they can find their favourite vendors after the move, and certainly, we’re open to suggestions. We also think there is potential to use the outdoor space for winter festivals that complement the other activities that will be taking place across the Seaport District or those put on by our neighbours.
We are preparing for the next phase now and will share photos and updates as soon as we can. We hope you join us for this next step along this journey.