Sault Ste. Marie MP Terry Sheehan has announced over $1.7 million in federal funding to revitalize the two buildings that will house the Mill Market in the city’s downtown core beginning this summer.
The funding, provided through Ottawa’s five-year, $1.5-billion Green and Inclusive Community Buildings Program, will enable the public marketplace and community facility to make energy-efficient renovations — such as new roofing, LED lighting and HVAC upgrades — which are expected to slash energy costs by more than half.
“This is going to benefit the downtown of Sault Ste. Marie, but also area farmers, particularly farmers in Algoma,” said Sheehan during a virtual announcement Monday. “We know that in particular during COVID-19 you saw that people realized how important [the] supply chain was in supporting local supply chains — local foods, local artisans — and this money is going to be used to update these buildings that will be used by Mill Market in Sault Ste. Marie to host its operations.”
Proponents of the market’s relocation say the updated building will be used to host Mill Market operations, along with food distribution and “collection of good food that would otherwise be wasted,” while “hosting activities geared towards underserved members of the community.”
The facility will also “host events and provide education on healthy eating, food preparation and environmental sustainability.”
“I have to say this is a very exciting day for Mill Market,” said Errol Caldwell, who sits on the market’s board of directors. “Funding from this program, combined with previously announced city support and market funding will help pave the way to a fully functional, energy efficient and accessible building.”
“This will become the Mill Market’s place of business and we certainly look forward to working with our partners, our customers, the city and other not-for-profit organizations that will be able to access this facility at no cost.”
The federal funding for the Mill Market, which was initially denied last year, will also allow the municipality to return $660,000 that was previously taken from the Mill Market coffers in order to aid a downtown plaza project that has been plagued with rampant cost overruns.
“As you’re aware we’ve got our budget deliberations tonight, and decisions like this make our deliberations a lot easier,” said Sault Ste. Marie Mayor Matthew Shoemaker. “Investment in infrastructure projects that the municipality is undertaking, or partnering in this case with Mill Market, to make the decisions that we have to make easier because it’s got [a] broader level of support.”
Caldwell told reporters following the funding announcement the new location for the Mill Market won’t be negatively impacted by its close proximity to the Algoma Farmers Market at Roberta Bondar Pavilion.
“I see it very much as a cooperative opportunity, not competitive,” he said.
Brent Lamming, the city’s community services director and chair of Mill Market’s board of directors, told reporters that parking at the market’s new location shouldn’t be an issue with upwards of five parking lots in the general vicinity of the Brock Street buildings.
“That’s north of 400 spots, so it’s going to be quite nice to have paid parking and accessible parking right in the near vicinity, and there’s also a few city lots within a few blocks’ walk as well,” Lamming said.
Sault Ste. Marie city council awarded a $2,994,000 contract to Ruscio General Contracting last year to relocate the Mill Market to 73 Brock St., which is adjacent to the new downtown plaza.
It's anticipated the new Mill Market location could open to the public sometime in June.