Timmins couple donates property to farmers market

The Mountjoy Farmers Market in Timmins has a permanent home thanks to a large property donation from local business owners Barry and Celine Petroski.

The couple has donated a 1.4-acre former truck lot along Riverside Drive to the Porcupine District Agricultural Society, which owns the market.

When Barry learned that his long-time electrician and president of the agricultural society, Rock Whissell, was looking to build a pavilion for the market, he decided the land should be used to better the community.

"It's a perfect location for them and if I'm not using it, I felt that that was a proper way of doing it," said Barry, 87, co-owner of a local used car dealership.

"Rather than just sell (the property), I just as soon somebody have it that will have it forever, here."

Whissell said he knew the donation was coming for more than a year. He postponed building the market pavilion at the Mountjoy Historical Conservation Area, just across the road, because Petroski's lot would be a better location.

"It was really unbelievable for us to have this opportunity, to move to this location, to be able to grow this farmers market as big as we're hoping to bring it and it's even better for the community," Whissell said.

He said the new site could also host several community activities and projects.

The 4,000-square-foot pavilion will be the centrepiece, housing 20 market vendors and have more surround it in tents. Whissell also envisions amenities like tennis and pickleball courts, alongside the nearby hockey rink.

"Having all of this parking and having all of this room for vehicles to come in and out ... having activities, while we're having the market," Whissell said.

"Hopefully, the community could use (the pavilion) for various (things). For a car show, for weddings, for yard sales."

The agricultural society will be transferring ownership of the property to the City of Timmins, Whissell said, which will reduce maintenance costs.

As part of the transfer, the group gets the final say on what can be done with the property and Whissell said he's open to ideas.

The market pavilion will be built once the transfer is completed in the coming weeks. A sign will pay tribute to the land donors.

Barry Petroski said that means the world to him.

"When people come here, they'll have to look at me, I guess," he said with a grin.