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Wednesday Market to be moved to ‘not a sustainable’ location on Hall Street

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
March 14th, 2018

The block that was built with the city’s downtown market in mind will now officially host the weekly summer festival of food, art and craft, but it is not a sustainable location, the market manager says.

Jesse Woodward, the West Kootenay EcoSociety’s market and events director, said in a letter to city council that a move to contain the Wednesday market — a downtown weekday staple for many years — to the Hall Street Plaza and the neighbouring 400 block would not only hamper the market’s desire to expand its vendor roster, but would cramp its current one.

“I would like to state very clearly that, for EcoSociety, a move to just Hall Street would make this market event not sustainable as it would decrease the revenue stream from our current location on the 400 block of Baker Street,” he wrote.

Woodward asked that if the city insisted on moving ahead with the Hall Street-only option — instead of the Hall Street Plaza and the 600 block of Baker Street the market asked for — the market would prefer to stay on the 400 block of Baker Street.

City council ignored the request, however, and the majority of council voted to provide the West Kootenay EcoSociety the 400 and the 500 blocks of Hall Street for the 2018 Wednesday Market, the very spots the city had re-configured one year ago during the first phase of the Hall Street development, the Stores-to-Shores project.

The consensus on council was that since the Hall Street plaza space had been developed — the area in front of IODE Park — the effort needed to be made to provide programming in the space. Moving the market to utilize the space was part of achieving that goal, noted a city staff report to council.

Woodward said in the letter that vendor spaces would become an issue by going with the exclusive Hall Street location.

“With all of the pedestrian bump outs, restaurant patio, keeping open the back ally lane for the Kootenay Co-op’s deliveries/customer access, the steepness of the top part of the 500 block of Hall Street, the actual usable vendor spaces would be less than what we currently have on the 400 block of Baker Street,” he said.

For the EcoSociety, one of the goals in moving the market was to increase its size, indicating it had a waiting list of up to 30 vendors who wanted to be included in the market but could not due to size restrictions of the Baker Street market location.

But the new location could allow the market to add around six additional vendors, from 50 to 56, according to city staff calculations of available space on Hall Street. Using the Hall Street Plaza and the 600 block of Baker Street would allow the market to expand to 68 vendors.

According to a city report on the market, the total size of the 400 block of Hall and the 600 block of Baker were approximately the same, but the usable area in the 400 block of Hall Street was reduced due to the requirement to leave the alley way open.

The move will be a recent departure for the EcoSociety’s Wednesday Market, after being hosted on the 400 Block of Baker Street for the last eight years.

An EcoSociety survey of the businesses within the area of the new location found that the three businesses that fronted the configuration were in favour of the market.

For the Hall Street Plaza and Baker Street proposal, of the 17 businesses that fronted the configuration comments were received from 13 of them, with eight in favour of the market and five opposed. Only one of the businesses in favour provided additional comment which indicated very strong support for the market.

The song remains the same

The EcoSociety will not get a price break at the new location either.

Despite an attempt by Coun. Michael Dailly to get council to support a 50 per cent reduction for one year on the rent in order for the market to try the new location, council voted to charge the EcoSociety the full fee for the year.

Currently, the EcoSociety pays $180 per week for the market at the 400 Block Baker Street location, a rate that has been in place for the past five years and was roughly based on the loss of parking meter revenue and a minimal fee for occupation of the public roadway.

The annual fee will result in a cost of $2,880 to the EcoSociety.

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