Reasons for Mill Market relocation
Prepared by Errol Caldwell
Mill Market Sault Ste. Marie is providing the following information regarding the future relocation of the market from the City’s old fish hatchery along Canal Drive to its new site at 73 Brock Street.
In recent months, there has been a lack of information regarding the reasons for the relocation of the
Mill Market to 73 Brock Street. The Mill Market Board feels it is important to provide some context and
background to the project so that our vendors and customers as well as the public understand the need
for this relocation.
Mill Market Sault Ste Marie was established in 2019 as a not-for-profit farmers’ market when the
previous for-profit market endured some financial hardships. The current market is governed by a board
representative of market vendors and members from the public at large. The board has sound financial
status since establishing the new not-for-profit organization.
During this transition, the City of Sault Ste Marie has supported Mill Market under a long-term lease
arrangement. When the agreement was signed with the City it was made very clear that our current
location along Canal Drive would only be temporary because the property was for sale as part of the
Gateway properties owned by the City. In fact, the old fish hatchery building was slated for demolition a
number of years ago, but it has been maintained in its current state to accommodate the market
temporarily while a new home was found for operations.
The City purchased 73 Brock Street, and it was identified as the future location of the market. Mill
Market prepared several funding applications to offset the cost of renovations to meet market vendor
needs. 73 Brock Street is also intended to be utilized as a downtown community centre that will
accommodate the market and be made available to other not-for-profit organizations, special interest
groups and the public when the market is not operating. It will also be used for activities during the
activation of the Downtown Plaza.
There are a number of reasons the relocation of Market from Canal Drive to Brock Street is critical:
- The Canal Drive market is inefficient in terms of space utilization due to remnants from the old
fish tanks. Removal of galvanized tanks and levelling the floor is cost prohibitive especially for a
building slated for demolition.
- The current location has asbestos insulation which would need to be remediated prior to major renovations. This would require the Mill Market and its vendors to move to another temporary location during any renovations for safety concerns.
- Inefficient lighting and heating in the building combined with poor insulation cause challenges. A new HVAC system would need to be installed at a considerable expense to the market.
- The facility is not connected to the City’s sewage system. Instead, a sewage storage tank must be pumped on a regular basis at great expense to the market. Washroom facilities are inadequate and do not meet current accessibility standards.
- The parking lot, although convenient in terms of proximity, requires significant repairs including excavation and re-paving to repair the deteriorating surface.
- The area surrounding the market poses a security risk with vandals causing costly repairs to an area that is not patrolled regularly. This cost is incurred by the market.
- The site remediation costs would be beyond Mill Market’s capability to address. These costs could exceed the costs of renovating 73 Brock Street.
When the City proposed a potential relocation to 73 Brock Street, this solution provided several significant advantages to the market including:
- Improved, accessible washrooms with a connection to City services.
- New, energy efficient HVAC and lighting systems, new roof, insulation, and siding that will greatly reduce market operating costs.
- Although parking is not as close to the building, there are in fact more parking spots available in the area than what is provided in the current location.
- The new location is closer to a growing population of downtown residents, it will become a central location for events and activities planned for the Downtown Plaza.
- Mill Market and the Algoma Farmers’ Market will be more closely situated. Market customers can go to both markets and support our local growers and food producers.
- A portion of the new location will accommodate artisans and craft producers. As a community centre, space can be made available to arts organizations for short term use.
- Organizations that are interested in using the facility for teaching, demonstrations, presentations and other activities will be able to book the facility for free. There are also plans to establish a storefront in the facility to accommodate a local, environmentally focused social enterprise.
Currently, the board has prepared a number of funding requests which are pending approval. These
grants would greatly reduce costs to the City and the Mill Market. The board will continue to advocate
for this new community space. The Mill Market board is strongly supportive of the relocation and of the
market and is grateful to the City for its continued support.