Despite the widespread speculation that the vendor market will be permanently removed from Springer Market Square, the City of Kingston assures that any considered displacements of the market would be temporary and minor.
The rumours began when a Change.org petition to “Save Kingston city market” began to circulate online as an information report was being brought to Kingston City Council on Tuesday, Jun. 4, 2019. Petition creator and vendor Roy Estabrooks wrote that “city council and staff have been quietly trying to end the public market.”
While there is no current plan to permanently move or cancel the market, The City is looking into the possibility of moving the market should a film production want to use the square.
According to Luke Follwell, Director of Recreation and Leisure Services for the City, the possible displacements would only be on Tuesdays, allowing three consecutive days of filming, and could happen between two to three times a year.
“This is just in the discussion stage so we can react if and when a production comes to town for filming,” said Follwell. “We do not currently have any applications for Springer Market Square, but a number of scouts have shown interest in the location.”
Alex Jansen of the Kingston Film Office said that allowing filming in the square has potential economic benefits to the entire community.
“Last year, the province hosted 250 major film and television productions with more than $1.6 billion spent and over 32,000 jobs created,” Jansen said. “With record production provincially and new access to Kingston Penitentiary for filming, we anticipate increased interest in the Kingston area and want to make sure all our community interests are served.”
The City has been meeting with vendors in order to develop a collaborative plan.
Chris Ackerman, a third generation market vendor whose family has been selling at the market for over 50 years, addressed Council at their June 4 meeting.
“We are being asked to give up our livelihood so that a movie company can come in and rent what we have already rented from the city,” said Ackerman before council. “I just don’t know how we will possibly operate somewhere else.”
Ackerman identified closing Princess street to allow vendors to set up — as is done for the Princess Street Promenade — as an acceptable possible compromise. Councillor Lisa Osanic voiced support of this concept, as did Councillor Peter Stroud.
“I think it’s obvious that there is a win-win here,” he said.
City Staff had already agreed to look into the possibility of closing Princess Street to allow the market to move there should a film production want to take place at Springer Market Square, and had expressed that in a memo to the Market Vendor’s Association that included the three options Staff had already come up with (Ackerman spoke out against both Option A and Option B at the Council meeting).
“I appreciate your feedback and collaboration to date regarding options for film permitting at Springer Market Square. As a follow up to our discussions, please find attached three location options for your comments,” Nancy Ruel, Supervisor of Special Events and Marketing for Recreation and Leisure Services with the City wrote in the memo.
“Further to this, we are working with the Downtown Kingston Business Association to discuss possible options along Princess St. and will have further information to share next week following their Board’s meeting.”
At this point, there is no indication that the Kingston public market — one of the oldest farmer’s markets in the country — will be moved from Springer Market Square, and all parties are simply in a negotiation phase regarding possible filming in the Square that will take months, if not years, to take shape.
Kingstonist will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as information becomes available.
With files from Michelle Allan and Tommy Vallier.