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Opening Ceremony Speech: A History of the Development of the Market and Acknowledgements of Contributors

Prepared by Denise Martel

I would sincerely like to welcome you to this special day, the opening of our newly refurbished building, now home for the Soo Market. I have to say – I am excited to be here.

This is a journey that began almost 5 years ago. Seeing the benefits this market had for the members of the community of SSM and the broader district of Algoma, a small group of vendors decided to make sure this valuable resource would continue. The market benefits the communities in so many ways: by supporting local products from farms and other food producers to talented artisans and crafters. It supplies many with their livelihood; these businesses then hire employees; it has given some fledgling businesses their start before opening storefronts; and to top it all off, buying local also benefits the environment; in short, our market greatly contributes to a thriving SSM and Algoma!

This small group of vendors united and prepared the basis for a Not-For-Profit Farmers’ Market that would continue this valuable asset. The building was owned by the city, and so we approached Tom Vair with a flexible proposal that would see the market continue to thrive. The city was happy to assist in pursuing our objective as they, too, recognized the benefits this market brought to the community.

What was born out of this initiative was a NFP association, composed of vendors, community members and a city representative, forming a well-balanced board, well equipped to carry the market forward. Brent Lamming, our link with the city, accepted the daunting task of chairing this fledgling organisation through the challenges as we moved forward. Just a few months into our new role, we were fortunate to find a market manager, Robert Pryor, possessing the skills and the will to work with us as we continued to develop the market.

The building was unsustainable, and so, with great assistance from the city, we were able to find a new home. What you see before you is a shining example of what can result from the combined efforts of the various levels of government along with the dedicated efforts of a small group of willing participants, community partners and businesses.

Our sincerest thanks go out to the city of SSM, the federal government and the provincial government for their contributions to this valuable project. Special thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers on the Soo Market Board of Directors and our manager – a special shoutout to Errol Caldwell for his many hours and dedication working with our government partners. Hats off as well to our chair, Brent Lamming, to Colleen Alloi and Don Manchur, who also dedicated so much time working with the relocation committee. Many hours were spent to trying to foresee and prepare for the needs of our many vendors to have the best, most efficient space we could provide.

Our appreciation also extends to Ruscio construction and MGP, the architects, who took the time to meet with us frequently as we all tried to plan for all eventualities and predict the needs and the uses of this space going forward. Superior Sawmilling designed and built the booths completing an attractive layout, very appropriate for a farmers’ market. Our marketing partner, Accretive, has helped enormously with the finishing touches such as social media changes, signage, and just generally getting the word out to all of you that we have moved and are now proudly named the Soo Market. Without any one of these contributors, this project could not have come together.

And so, in conclusion, I say to you, after our ceremony comes to a close, wander through the market, meet our vendors, check out their many varied products, spend some money and come back and do it all over again, next week!