Farmers markets are extremely popular and there are efforts to encourage even more growth.
The Vernon Farmers Market is proposing a number of upgrades to its parking lot site at Wesbild Centre as a way of encouraging residents and tourists to attend every Monday and Thursday.
“It’s the perfect location but for growth and enhancement, it needs some funding, some ongoing planning and some tender loving care,” said Wayne Seabrook, market manager.
For about $300,000, it’s proposed that water, sewer and electrical services be connected to the site for use by vendors. The plan also calls for a stage, benches, hanging baskets, trash containers and welcome signs.
“It will help bring more money into the economy,” said Vicki Topping, an architect working on the project.
About 2,307 customers attend the market each day, and the impact of the market on the local economy is about $1.6 million annually.
“This is a major chance for farmers to sell their product,” said John Cox, who grows potatoes in the BX.
Water and sewer would allow there to be washrooms right on-site instead of people currently having to access facilities inside Wesbild.
“I’m a one-man show. When I have to go, I have to race to Wesbild and my neighbour must look after my stall,” said Cox.
However, the plan has raised some concerns from the Regional District of North Okanagan, which owns the property.
“It’s sitting in the middle of the parking lot,” said director Mike Macnabb of washrooms and a stage.
“Once you put in a building, it’s there.”
It’s believed six to eight parking stalls would be lost to the 20-foot-by-20-foot structure.
Director Jackie Pearase also questioned the financial plan for the concept.
“It’s the regional district, you get the site for free (no rent), now and you want them to pay for the improvements,” she said.
There’s been some suggestion of a permanent market being constructed in downtown Vernon, but Seabrook says his group is not interested because Wesbild provides lots of room, sufficient parking and is on major transit and traffic routes.
“You couldn’t do it on the scope we’re doing it downtown without bulldozing a lot of buildings,” he said.
Director Bob Fleming wants to look at the Vernon Farmers Market request further.
“There’s a lot of good ideas there. The market gives people producing in our area an outlet to people,” he said.