The Vankleek Hill Farmers’ Market will be setting up shop temporarily every week in the parking lot of the former Vankleek Hill day care building.

At its May 14 regular meeting, which was livestreamed through Champlain Township’s Youtube channel, council approved leasing the parking lot to the farmers’ market.

An approved site plan has been presented to the township and insurance issues were about to be sorted out, according to Champlain Township CEO Paula Knudsen.

The Vankleek Hill Farmers’ Market usually takes place every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. year-round at Vankleek Hill Collegiate Institute (VCI), moving outdoors from Victoria Day weekend to autumn, weather permitting, but due to the COVID-19 situation the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) will not allow the weekly event to take place on VCI property.

The lease agreement will include a clause relating to the township’s right to use of the parking lot, a point raised by Vankleek Hill Councillor Troy Carkner and West Hawkesbury Councillor Sarah Bigelow.

The market will use the day care property until September 2020 or until the UCDSB permits them to set up the weekly market on school property.

The township had previously given permission for construction access via the day care property for the new seniors housing project that is being undertaken by the not-for-profit Vankleek Senior Citizens Manor Corporation.

Knudsen said the market will focus on advance online orders with curb-side pick-up at vendors’ booths at the market. Booths will be set up with empty spaces in between, according to the plan presented to council. Knudsen said the market will take place for three hours per week.

Customer parking will be on-street parking for the few hours each week that the market is open.

Aartje Den Boer said that the Vankleek Hill Farmers’ Market is ready to meet all health guidelines and is waiting for approval from the Eastern Ontario Health Unit Medical Officer of Health.

“This won’t be a browsing market — not for now — it will be a place where customers can pick up the items they ordered from vendors during the previous week,” noted Den Boer, who added that the market will be reopening with only food vendors for now.

The former day care building is located at the end of Derby Avenue in Vankleek Hill. The municipally-operated day care was located in the municipally-owned building for several decades, but recently relocated to rented premises at Ecole St-Gregoire in Vankleek Hill. Champlain Township has been considering selling the property, but the Manor corporation has requested that the township consider donating the building or retaining it as a small meeting hall for senior citizens.

Other markets have opened, she said, and she emphasized that several local food vendors of meat, greens and other foods will be at the market. Links to purchase from vendors will be on the Vankleek Hill Farmers’ Market website.