PENINSULA LETTERS: We should want to shop in our town
With reference to the proposal by the Victoria Airport Authority to join with the Town of Sidney to develop land on the corner of Beacon Avenue and Pat Bay Highway, I have a suggestion for something which could be an attraction for residents of the Peninsula as well as tourists, something which could complement existing Sidney businesses.
I visualize an all-year-round farmers market with market stalls in a warehouse-style building with lots of skylights to give natural light, similar to Granville Island in Vancouver. It would provide an outlet for local produce, fish, wines and crafts all in one place. Items sold would be basically B.C. products — although some exceptions could be made in winter for fresh vegetables. There would be space for home-baked foods and the Visitors Information Centre too, plus possibly a few stalls for antiques and collectables.
If the market was linked to the main Town of Sidney by a covered, pedestrian walkway across the highway, there would be easy access for the older residents of Sidney to buy fresh produce without worrying about driving out of town. The antiques would be an added attraction — especially for seniors who like to sell and buy collectables. With plenty of free parking on site, visitors would also enjoy walking across to Sidney to enjoy retail therapy as they stroll around our waterfront town. I am sure market vendors and shoppers would appreciate having a covered area where business is not dependent on the weather and stalls do not have to be set up weekly (although there is something nice about an outdoor market too).
I have given my ideas for improvements to Sidney. My principal suggestions are for Sidney to have broad, obstacle-free sidewalks with canopies over the stores so shoppers are protected from sun and rain as well as plenty of free parking. We need more sidewalks and better street lighting too but I realize these have budget constraints.
I pointed out Sidney has location! We are a waterfront community. We have everything for boaters including marinas, boat builders and repair shops plus kayaks to rent, whale watching trips, a ferry to Sidney Island. There is a waterfront walkway with many places to sit to enjoy magnificent views over the Gulf Islands, a fresh fish market, waterfront parks — all in a town with lots of small businesses giving personal, friendly service. We should not have to be told to shop local, we should want to shop in our town.