Market turns to people power

The Coquitlam Farmers
The Coquitlam Farmers' Market continues to run in Port Moody twice a month.
— image credit: trI-CITY NEWS

Port Moody’s strict sign bylaw banning advertising for temporary events such as markets and yard sales has led Coquitlam Farmers Market officials to seek some creative ways around the rules.

Most recently, market organizers are considering employing a children’s choir and a giant mobile tomato to get the word out.

Coquitlam Farmers Market director Tabitha McLoughlin said the tactics are necessary to skirt the sign bylaw and let people know about next weekend’s winter farmers market at the Port Moody rec complex.

“We’ve been trying to figure out ways to promote the market and we have this tomato costume so the idea was to see if some brave soul would don it and promote us that way,” McLoughlin said. “And a local choir group said they could come do a flash mob at the market and then stick around to do some performances.”

The 2001 bylaw, which prohibits erecting stationary signs aside from those over licensed businesses, is in stark contrast to those in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam, McLoughlin said, where city staff actually help market organizers post notices for their events.

Tim Savoie, Port Moody’s director of planning and development, told The Tri-City News last week that the Coquitlam Farmers Market is allowed to advertise its event on city hall property but that anything outside of that would have to be cleared first with city staff. He added that, like neighbourhood “yard sale” signs, any signage not pertaining to a licensed business or cleared first by the city is technically illegal under the bylaw, but that enforcement officers gauge such offences more on whether the signs obstruct walkways or could potentially distract motorists.

“We have done a winter market in some form or another in Port Moody at the rec centre for 13 years... and this was the first time that the bylaw was enforced,” she said about a recent incident when their signs were confiscated.

McLoughlin, who sits on the board of the BC Farmers’ Market Association, said the group recently put forth a recommendation to the B.C. Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services advising B.C. municipalities to help farmers markets advertise their events. That recommendation was accepted by the finance committee, McLoughlin said, because farmers’ markets bring measurable benefits to even non-participating businesses.

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