BY JADE MORELLINI
The Sydney Vegan Markets have been punished by Inner West Council for being a success, breaching their DA with over 5,000 people attending the markets.
The Sydney Vegan Markets run on the third Sunday of every month and began to meet the growing demand for access to local, ethical and sustainable products. They support small local vegan businesses to get in front of their target market and generate real income.
After their move to Addison Road Community Centre (ARCCO), unexpected issues arose with the Inner West Council who have advised a new DA is required that is more appropriate for their size.
Market organiser, Kate Jones said, “The DA that ARCCO currently hold is for their night market and we believed we could slot in for that, or that the Council would work with us to amend it, but they fined Addison Road Community Centre $6000 and are making us start the process again.”
At the Inner West Council meeting, they stated the breaches of Addison Road Community Centre.
Inner West claimed that the organisers exceeded the maximum of 25 stalls, having over 100 food stalls and they did not have pre-ticket sales restricting the event to a maximum of 500 people.
The event attracted more than 5,000 people.
The Council also said the the organisers didn’t restrict the markets to the approved hours of operation and this resulted in significant traffic and parking implications for the surrounding area.
The Sydney Vegan Markets now need to apply for a new DA and this will take a minimum of 100 days to be approved which will be a massive setback for the stall holders.
“The Council said they aren’t willing to fast track it for us,” Jones said. “It needs to follow due process which we understand, but it just feels like it’s been a punishing approach to something that is so amazing for the community.”
Having only held four markets so far, the growth they have seen in crowds is massive. The markets support between 120 – 130 stall holders every month and the delay will put more pressure on these small businesses, many of whom live and work in the Inner West.
“We get up to 10,000 people attending and we estimate that about $250,000 spent on the day. These businesses are micro businesses, often in start-up, and a lot of which launch and only trade at our market, so it means that our stalls don’t have exposure and aren’t getting in front of their customers,” Jones said.
Stall holder of Maker Cafe, Annabelle McMillan is concerned about the impact this will have on her business. “A lot of the businesses that operate at the markets hire our space out as preparation, so that affects that cash flow for us.”
The Vegan Sydney Market started a petition to the Inner West Council, calling to “reduce red tape on community run events to show that their support of culture and community within the Inner West is real.”
Currently, 3,654 others have supported this petition.
“It’s wonderful, we’re certainly humbled by it. The crowds that we see and the engagement on our social media and the support we have from the community, from the beginning there were obviously heaps of people who were excited about it, but there are even heaps of non-vegans who come,” Jones said.
They are trying to work with the Inner West Council to fix this issue as quickly as they can, but the process seems very arduous.
“I think the problem is the fine, its $6000!” Jones said. “It’s so much for a community centre and it wasn’t a collaborative approach. They told us about the DA the afternoon before our market and it was too late, the stalls we had would have lost so much, they were ready to go.”
With an increasing demand for veganism, the markets are growing in popularity and they want to provide for the crowds.
“People find out about our stalls through the market itself, so our café has been busier because people are trying our stuff so we see lots of new faces as a result of it and I can see that declining as a result of having to wait,” McMillan said.
Despite this road bump, Jones is eager to find another way to keep the markets running in the meantime.
“We’re really doing our best, we’re looking at other opportunities and other venues to house us in the meantime. We’ve got a pop-up at Our Hood, an event run by Commune on the 25th April,” Jones said.
The Inner West Council were asked to comment, but they declined.