File photo White Rock Farmers Market vendors pose no threat to political process according to a report from city manager.

‘No concerns evident’ on politicking at Farmers Market – Bottrill

Suggested political influence of T-shirts rejected in White Rock CAO’s report

Operations of the White Rock Farmers’ Market on Miramar Village Plaza will have no impact on the civic election campaign in October.

That’s the conclusion of a review by chief administrative officer Dan Bottrill, which will be presented to city council on Monday.

Council had deferred consideration of the market’s use of Miramar Plaza next year on a motion from Coun. Grant Meyer, who said an unnamed “prospective politician” had suggested that market vendors or participants wearing political T-shirts might unduly influence voters during the campaign.

In his report, Bottrill notes that the shift of local government elections from November to October (White Rock’s is scheduled for Oct. 20) means that the farmers market will be, for the first time, operating during an election campaign.

But, he says in the latest report, “a review of the matter indicates no concerns evident in this regard.”

Bottrill says he found that following conversations with market representatives that they have “no desire to have political organizations as part of their vendor complement.”

Further, he adds, the market would not be operating at a time that voting is actually taking place, so therefore would not stand any chance of violating the Elections Act.

He also notes it would be undesirable to attempt to limit the expression of ideas on social or political issues by market participants.

“This is a right that all of us enjoy in this country and it would be inappropriate, and illegal, to attempt to impose any restrictions on an organization or individuals participating in this event,” Bottrill says in his report.

In raising the issue at the Nov. 20 council meeting, Meyer had wondered whether political activities during the farmers market would be “fair – especially being that the city does sponsor the event?” – something which had since been contradicted by Coun. Helen Fathers, who had excused herself from the council conversation as she is also the manager of the farmers market.

“The fact of the matter is that there’s no in-kind sponsorship from the city,” she later told Peace Arch News. “The market pays all its fees, there’s no money from the city. I don’t know what to say – we’re self-sufficient and proud of it.”

Bottrill’s report, however, maintains the city is technically a sponsor, as it is part of a committee – including Bosa and the Miramar strata council – that manages use of the Miramar public plaza space.

The city sponsors the event to the extent that it approves which organizations may use the plaza, Bottrill argues, while the city gives some services-in-kind, including power from its community centre in the Miramar building and the use of outside community centre washrooms.

Bottrill does acknowledge in his report, however, that “there is currently no financial sponsorship from the City to the Farmers’ Market.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

One injured in South Surrey shooting

Shots reported in area of 194 Street and 34 Avenue

Surrey wrestler Jason Bains receives four-year suspension for using banned substance

Queen Elizabeth Secondary grad tests positive for steroid Turinabol, silver national medal removed

What happens when someone tests positive for COVID-19 at a Surrey school?

Surrey Schools Superintendent explains step-by-step process for notifying the community

COVID-19 exposures reported at four more Surrey schools

Fraser Health has created a new webpage listing COVID-19 cases in schools

UPDATED: COVID-19 outbreak declared at Peace Arch Hospital

Provincial health officer says outbreak is in the facility’s rehab unit

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

Report raises questions about COVID outbreak that killed 25 seniors at Langley Lodge

CEO defends leaked document that’s igniting queries about BC’s most deadly COVID outbreak

PHOTO: RCMP escort beaver across busy Chilliwack road

Motorists had to exercise patience as the slow-moving creature crossed several lanes of traffic

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

‘Not criminally responsible’ hearing slated for man convicted of Abbotsford school stabbing

Gabriel Klein was found guilty in March of killing Letisha Reimer, 13, in 2016

Most Read