Whatever a farmers’ market connoisseur wants, the Old Strathcona market usually has.
Since it was transformed from a bus barn in 1983, the market along 83 Avenue has become the go-to location for grocery shoppers focused on buying local in central Edmonton.
The only thing missing has been upgrades to the market’s infrastructure. But that will soon change as a major modernization is in the works.
“We deal with 127 businesses under this roof. Everybody needs to know we’re not going to shut the facility down during renovations,” says Keith Persaud, the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market manager.
After two years of planning and community engagement, the market has announced Clark Builders as the contractor entrusted with providing a dollar amount for the much-needed improvements. Then the process will begin to find funding for the project from government and private sources.
“We need it to be here for the next 40 years, we are an icon in the community, and in order for us to be AHS-compliant moving forward, we have to renew,” added Persaud.
That means proper hand-washing sinks along with upgraded sewage lines and other infrastructure improvements in order to become what Persaud hopes is a multi-day market.
“We want to open up Friday and Saturdays, we want to activate the building seven days a week with a general store, a food kiosk out front, so the community can use it for corporate, social and community events, make the building active. “
The hope is that the shopping experience won’t be affected while the needed improvements such as HVAC work on the roof, LED lighting installation and co-ed bathroom renovations get underway.
“We want to keep the eclectic nature of the market, it’s not a cookie cutter,” says Persaud.
If all goes well with funding, main construction will begin early in 2023. And along with keeping customers comfortable, the market understands its many vendors must be able to stay open and viable.
And true to its unique stature as a weekend magnet for thousands, the modernization will happen in a unique manner, meaning no dust filled areas thanks to new technology.
Persaud hopes the full construction could be finished by the fall of next year to coincide with the market’s 40th anniversary.
“There’s a few secrets that we are planning such as a rooftop garden with bees…I think you will be impressed.”