St. Jacobs rises from the ashes

Over a year after burning down, the Farmers’ Market is being rebuilt and will boast an extra 10,000 square feet of space to allow for additional vendors

Photo by Heather Davidson
Photo by Heather Davidson

On Sept. 2, 2013, St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market lit up in flames, the cause of which remains undetermined. However, following the fire there was no hesitation in providing a temporary place of business for vendors while plans for its rebuilding were considered. A little over a year later, the building is almost finished as it prepares to open in early June.

Overall, the exterior portion of the building is nearly finished including the windows and drywall.

The next few months will be spent finishing the interior and completing the rest.

Marcus Shantz, president of Mercedes Corporation, which owns the Farmers’ Market building, said the new building will be 10,000 square feet larger, making more room for seating and wider aisles. This will also mean 20 per cent more vendor space.

More importantly, the new building will have sprinklers.

“We were happy to put sprinklers in the building,” Shantz said.

There was no external pressure for the $5-million project, as the company and the community are in support of providing a permanent space for vendors.

“We’re getting lots of nice comments from people and people seem to be excited by it … the vendors are very excited by it and we’re very encouraged by that,” said Shantz. “I hope that it continues to be a hub for the community and a place where the vendors and the customers continue to interact as they have in the past.”

Devin Petteplace, communications coordinator and executive assistant to the mayor of Woolwich, said the township has fully supported the market rebuilding, as Woolwich encompasses St. Jacobs.

“From a logistics perspective, it was really just about providing approvals for planning and development which was fairly simplistic. We as a township had indicated at the time of the fire that we’d be happy to work with Mercedes Corp. to make sure that it flows smoothly and I believe it has,” said Petteplace.

The market is a significant tourist attraction for the township of Woolwich and for the community.

The fire has not hindered the circulation of business by vendors and the spirit of the community.

“To have that feeling of being whole again with the construction of the new building, it will be really significant for the township from a tourism and from a heritage perspective,” said Petteplace.

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