The Town of Sidney is looking for someone else to run the popular Thursday night market.
The town announced Wednesday that it immediately terminated its agreement with the Sidney Business Association to operate the annual market that fills Beacon Avenue each summer.
“We’re terminating it because we’ve lost confidence that they can deliver a market effectively. And we have a whole series of reasons why,” said Mayor Larry Cross.
“The town is not honouring the contract,” countered SBA president Edward Connor. He said the town must give the SBA six months notice to terminate the licence agreement. “That’s fine, if they don’t like it give us the notice. If they get away with this, it’s just bizarre.”
Earlier this year, the Town of Sidney, approached by a group of downtown merchants, opted to look at the configuration and makeup of the annual street market that enters its 13th year this year.
The plan was to have stakeholders, the SBA, the town, merchants and vendors come together to discuss any changes that could happen to make the market a more attractive and include local business.
“We’ve been involved in the mediation process for a while,” Cross said. At a March 23 meeting of the stakeholders involved, a plan was developed, he added. “We left that meeting on the 23rd and assumed we were getting there.”
A week later he was disappointed in the process when the SBA presented a resolution to council.
“This resolution came forward to council … saying that they would go along with the agreement as far as reasonably possible.” Cross describes those “reasonably possible” changes as minimal over last year, with only a couple of extra access points. The resolution also included a sentence, later stated to be in error that “they would move the market unless council agreed.”
“Council was upset, I was upset,” Cross said. Among other concerns, there’s the outstanding $7,000 owed to the Town of Sidney – about half the annual fees for services.
“In the end we felt that’s it. We cannot have confidence in this organization,” Cross said.
Conor said the SBA twice asked for an itemized list of what was owed to the town after last year’s market and will pay when the list is delivered.
The SBA has run the market since its inception nearly 13 years ago.
“We’re going to have to move it somewhere else. Some other area, some other municipality,” Connor said. “It could be the end of us if this doesn’t go. We’re getting legal advice, but it might be difficult because we don’t have a lot of money. … Maybe there’s something underlying where they want the SBA gone.”
The town plans to issue a request for proposals for management and operation of the 2012 summer market.