By Rebecca Peppiatt
A request by Mundaring Garden and Farmer’s Market for a waiver of site fees was put to Shire of Mundaring councillors on Tuesday at their monthly meeting, causing lengthy debate and divided opinion.
Mandy and Andrew Osenton, organisers of the markets, say they were slapped with an invoice asking them to pay hourly fees to use grounds at Sculpture Park to host the event three months after it began operating earlier this year.
They claim they were never told there would be a cost involved with using the grounds and that paying $29 an hour was prohibitive to the viability of the markets going forward when they were trying to get established and pumping all profits back into what they say is a community-enhancing event.
As such, they asked Shire staff for a waiver of fees and also for permission to increase the market’s operation from fortnightly to weekly.
The meeting’s report recommended council decline the request for a waiver of fees due to them having “an element of commercial operation”, but that it allow the markets to run weekly.
Councillors debated for an hour and a half, with new councillors Neridah Zlatnik and Trish Cook putting forward alternative motions on the fee issue.
Cr Zlatnik’s alternative motion to decrease the fees to 50 per cent of the hourly rate for the rest of the financial year was unpopular.
“If we agree to a waiver, I can already hear pen being put to paper from other local groups all wanting the same thing,” Cr Simon Cuthbert said.
Cr Cook’s alternative motion was to waiver the fees for a further three months to give the organisers time to look at the viability of running the event.
“Let’s be generous, let’s be kind, let’s support business, let’s keep our reputation in tact and let’s be fair about it,” Cr Cook said.
Her motion was carried 9-2. The motion to go weekly was also carried, 10-1.