by Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on Wednesday April 13 2022
The location for the Wednesday city farmers’ market has been set, moving to the 600 block of Baker Street and the Hall Street Plaza.
City council gave third reading to the bylaw that permanently positioned the market, that has bounced around for years along Baker Street and even to Cottonwood Park, in the plaza — an area specifically designed to host such events.
There was some discussion about having the market rotate around the various blocks of Baker Street, to share the good and the bad aspects of the market with the downtown businesses.
“At the end of the day there are specific businesses along the street that are just having an impact, it’s not ephemeral to them,” said Coun. Keith Page.
Some love it, some hate it, he added.
“There’s no resolving that; it will just be that way for brick-and-mortar businesses.”
Coun. Jesse Woodward said the reason a rotation did not work is that each block of Baker Street was unique. He had operated the market for seven years before he joined city council, and he noted that the Hall Street Plaza contained several amenities — electrical outlets, public bathroom, water — that the market needed.
“The (plaza) is essentially designed around having events. It’s literally made for market events. Anywhere else you are losing amenities,” said Woodward.
The market had bounced around for years, said Nelson and District Youth Centre manager Jordan Martin — the youth centre manages the market for the city — and when Hall Street was re-furbished several years ago the intent was to create a space that could host a market.
“This location had a number of clear benefits as the central location drew a significant number of residents and visitors, furthering the ultimate goal of directly connecting residents to local food producers and artists,” she said in her report to council.
The Youth Centre had conducted a ThoughtExchange soliciting the community’s input on the location of the Farmers’ Market for Wednesday market days.
The pandemic forced both the Saturday and Wednesday market locations to migrate from Baker Street to Cottonwood Falls Park, alleviating challenges that businesses and the City of Nelson were facing due to the pandemic (e.g., social distancing, space constraints, entry and exit points, COVID-19 safety planning and cleaning protocols).
“While the Cottonwood Falls Park location does provide a desirable location for the Saturday market, it has proven challenging for the Wednesday Market,” said Martin. “The Wednesday market more heavily relies on ‘mid-week traffic’ from residents who can stop in at the market as part of their workday.”
However, Cottonwood does not draw as many people on a Wednesday since it is not in the downtown core.
“The Saturday market does not appear to have this problem as people are more easily able to make the market their main destination,” Martin explained in her report.
With this in mind, city staff asked the community, via ThoughtExchange, to respond to the following question: "When thinking about a Wednesday market location in Nelson, what are the key features you would like to see?”
The results indicated that the general community and key market stakeholders would prefer a more central location within or close to the downtown core for the Wednesday Farmers’ Market.
In addition, staff proposed council waive any special permit fees for brick and mortar businesses within 60 metres of the Wednesday Farmers’ Market on market days in the year 2022.
However, the distance and the waiving of fees were referred back to city staff for further review.