MONTREAL — It appears that Montreal may be getting a new central market at last.
“We would like to have an agreement by the end of the year at the latest,” said Andre Plante, director of the Quebec Produce Growers Association.
While QPGA owns the Marche Central’s 800,000 square feet of space, it leases the land from the British Columbia developer that owns the shopping center next door.
If growers and wholesalers agree to move, the developer has agreed to rebuild the market on industrial land nine miles east, now a golf course beside the Metropolitan Boulevard.
By mid-October, Plante had letters of intent from three major Montreal wholesalers who now operate outside the market and are interested in building on the potential two million square feet of new land.
“On the financial side, we are close to an agreement,” Plante said, “but we have to confirm that the wholesalers are coming for sure. Having Courchesne Larose, Laverdure and Premier Fruits and Vegetables ready to join us encourages us to push forward with the move.”
Guy Milette, vice president of international and business development for importer and wholesaler Courchesne Larose, said the idea appeals because the company has long outgrown its present location outside the market.
“We’ve been talking about a new location for years,” Milette said, “and we’re in negotiations to be part of a new market.”
Jean-Francois Laverdure, president of fruit and vegetable importer JB Laverdure, said a new market would be good for the city’s image and good for business, but the move would only be worth it if 80% of the wholesalers move.
“Having two guys, like we have now, won’t make a market,” he said. “Now, customers can play us with their cell phones and everything’s about price,” he said. “If you’re on the market, everyone else knows what you’re competing against and what you have on your floor. Better stuff would be sold at a better price.”
Canadawide, the city’s largest wholesaler, still holds a lease directly with the developer.