The latest Ontario lockdown has caused the Oshawa Farmers Market to delay its opening day, yet again. After originally rescheduling the opening from last fall to Feb. 14 of this year, the market will now officially open its doors April 5.
The indoor market at 27 Simcoe St. N. is being put together by Brockhedge Investment Group (BIG).
Alexis Kofman, BIG owner and CEO, says she made the decision to delay the opening.
“We chose to move the market’s opening date back until April for public enjoyment. We wanted to be able to welcome larger numbers of people at a time,” she says. “We want to have somewhat of a grand opening, so it made much more sense to push that opening date back.“
Kofman, 45, says the market is deemed an essential service by the Ontario government and the Feb. 14 opening was approved. Both BIG and the City of Oshawa have been in constant communication and there’s a sense that pushing the opening day back would benefit the city and the market.
Oshawa city councillor Rick Kerr says COVID-19 has also delayed the construction of the market and it would’ve been a challenge to open in February, regardless of the lockdown.
Kerr say’s he’s excited for the market to open in April, and he thinks it will solve multiple problems for people in the downtown area.
“There is a need for fresh produce and related food services in our downtown core,” says Kerr. “Right now, the only place for groceries for downtown residents is Costco which is just outside the eastern boundary of downtown.”
He says the partnership between Oshawa and BIG will benefit both parties, especially the city.
“People need food choices in addition to fast-food and restaurant operations. This is a symbiotic relationship. As one factor grows, so does the other,” says Kerr.
Kofman says there’s some confusion from the public as to what the market will look like and how it will function. By opening in April, she thinks it allows BIG to properly promote the market and what people should expect.
“In my business, those who rush and feel pressure are generally not successful in this business. You have to make the decisions that are necessary for the project, regardless of the popular opinion,” says Kofman.
The market building is three stories and nearly 15,000 square feet. It will feature a lower-level shopping area, as well as an upstairs seating area and café/wine bar called The Rook.
The co-owner of The Rook is Kyle Kornic, who also operates Brew Wizards, a café in downtown Oshawa.
As for other vendors, Kofman did not provide a concrete number but says the market is 80 per cent leased. Vendors will be able sell their products on shelving units throughout the market, there will be no individual booths for a specific vendor, she says.
Kofman says delaying opening was also done – in part – to make sure vendors will have enough inventory to sell their product year-round.
She thinks the public will enjoy the market concept.
“During the day, the market is very much an indoor farmers’ market. After dark, when the market closes on Friday and Saturday evening, it will turn into a live entertainment venue,” says Kofman.
While BIG made the decision to delay the opening, once the market starts it will follow all required COVID-19 safety protocols regarding things like capacity, sanitization and social distancing.
Kofman says she’s excited for the opening of the market and thinks it will bring joy to people who’re living in uncertain times.
“This project is huge for the community, it’s huge for the shopping local initiative, for the change that’s happening in the downtown core and for Oshawa itself,” says Kofman.