By Kendra Lovegrove
Expansions at the Halifax Seaport Market are underway. Farmers and crafters are looking forward to what the future renovations hold, but some customers are still reluctant.
The Halifax Port Authority took over the Market in December.
“I think it’s fantastic that the port authority has taken over,” says Nichla Pinsent, a crafter at the Market. “Because [the Halifax Port Authority] are [part of the] federal government they have deep pockets, and what needs to be done is going to get done.”
Pinsent has been working at the Market for almost two years, and has already witnessed, what she believes, are well-needed changes.
“Some of the people that have run the place were venders themselves,” says Pinsent. “It’s hard for them to get the emotion out of it, and just run it as a business.
“The woman that they have hired to run the place now, Julie Chaisson [the executive director], is completely non-biased, and comes at it from a completely non-emotional perspective.”
Reluctant to speak about the Market and the expansion
Multiple vendors at the Market were reluctant to talk to Peninsula News about the expansions, and the Market in general. Pinsent says she knows why that is.
“Because you feel like your butt is on the line,” says Pinsent. “As soon as you open your mouth somebody is going to clamp down on you, and if you’ve pissed somebody off at the top, you’re not going to get what you’re asking for.
“But there are a lot of rules in place that have been in place for two years that they’re working on getting rid of.”
Chris de Waal, a farmer and vendor at Getaway Farms at the Halifax Seaport Market, thinks that merchants are just in fear of the unknown.
“With change comes fear,” says de Waal. “No one has been told what’s going to happen, [just that] change is coming.”
The Expansion from a Farmer’s perspective
De Waal has been selling at the Market since 2009, and is looking forward to what the expansion could bring to both the community and to the farmers.
“I think it’s pretty freaking exciting to be totally honest with you,” says de Waal. “The stuff that they’re talking about – the big garage doors, the new stair-way and entrance, the new bar tops on the mezzanine, and a cool kitchen. These are all really exciting things.”
What is exciting de Waal the most is the approach the new management is taking. He feels they’re working to build a functional and fantastic public space, and then putting a Market around that.
“It’s awesome, because this building, this Market should be as much the community’s as it is the farmers’,” says de Waal. “I think that’s really exciting, because this building should be a beacon of local agriculture and the local food movement and that’s the approach they seem to be taking.”
The expansion of the Market from a buyer’s perspective
John Kodama, a fourth year NSCAD University student, has been shopping at the Seaport Market for about two years now. Though he supports the changes, he’s worried about the costs.
“As an avid go’er of the Market, I feel like change is good, but in a certain context. I don’t want to see prices go up because of the construction … in the market,” says Kodama.
Kodama’s main worry is that because of expansion costs, vendors will have to pay extra to have tables set up. He worries that this will inevitably trickle down to consumers.
“We’re so use to such a set standard price for a cupcake from the Red Kitchenette,” says Kodama. “I know that a cupcake from her costs exactly $2.25, but if they were to renovate then increase the price of rent, then, you know, what other option does she or he have to survive the market. […] It really becomes a classic battle of the survival of the fittest.”