ANTIGONISH: Town and county councils heard the fall-out from the lack of tendering for a new farmer’s market building in Antigonish.
Last week, Antigonish Mayor Laurie Boucher and Antigonish Warden Owen McCarron responded to questions regarding the Antigonish Farmer’s Market. The board for the market decided on a contractor for a new building without going through a tendering process.
McCarron and Boucher said they heard concerns from citizens about the process and met with the board for an explanation.
“The concern was that it wasn’t a tendered process,” said McCarron. “We took two opportunities to meet; first with a couple of members of the farmer’s market and then both councils met with the board of the farmer’s market and listened to the explanation from them why they went with a sole source contractor.”
Funding from the facility comes from several sources including the federal, provincial, and municipal governments. The feds provided $700,000 through the Innovation Communities Fund, $200,000 from the county, and $150,000 from the town.
“They explained timelines were really tight in terms of when the federal funding came in and the need to get the project up and going,” said McCarron. “I think they just got caught in a situation where they were feeling the time crunch with winter coming on and that’s the explanation they gave us.”
There was also nothing in the funding agreements tying the board to take the project to tender, explained McCarron. Both he and Boucher said this is something the municipalities will look at in the future.
“The town is in full support of the farmer’s market, we’re very excited that we will have a year-round facility, and we do not regret giving the funding that we did give,” Boucher said. “That being said, if
was coming from the town, there would have been a request for proposals.”
McCarron said the market board is a group of volunteers who are working hard to get the project off the ground, adding nothing was done with ill intent.
Ahead of the new Antigonish Farmer’s Market Building, town council is making some changes to the Antigonish Arena and exhibition grounds.
The town is making some upgrades to water lines on the grounds and along the adjacent Fairview Street. The work will include changing the water line to an eight-inch waterline to allow for the proper water flow for fire safety. Boucher said they are also adding three new fire hydrants, and an eight inch sewer pipe, which Mayor Laurie Boucher said will better service the area.
Boucher said the work has to be done to service the area, noting it’s the right time to do the work with the new Antigonish Farmer’s Market on the way. She said the work will likely begin in the early spring, adding it shouldn’t hamper the construction of the farmer’s market building.
The work is slated to cost around $75,000.
“It’s being taken out of our depreciation fund which is the money the tax payers are paying us to specifically to take care of projects such as that,” she explained, noting it’s funded entirely by the town. “[The work] mostly on Fairview but it does extend into the fairgrounds as well.”