March 25, 2015 - 8:22 AM
VERNON - There’s concern that a Vernon market designed to attract people to the downtown core is actually having a negative affect on some merchants.
The summertime Avenue Market, which is coming into its second year, invites vendors to set up on 30 Avenue on Friday evenings. When it started, the hope was that it would add vibrancy to Vernon’s downtown area, but now there’s some doubt among city council — which holds the key to closing the road to vehicle traffic — that the market is benefiting all merchants.
“(There are) three to four businesses that I know are not in favour of it that have suffered financially from the market being there,” Coun. Catherine Lord said at a council meeting Monday, Mar. 23.
She pointed out that because the road closure would start at 3 p.m. in preparation for the 4 p.m. market, merchants could lose customers during one of their busiest hours. Another concern she expressed was that in some cases, vendors directly compete with the products offered at permanent businesses.
“If I was a business owner I would not like somebody taking my business away right in front of me,” Lord said.
Coun. Scott Anderson spoke in support of the market, saying it attracts numerous shoppers to the downtown core who wouldn’t otherwise be there, and Coun. Brian Quiring also defended it as something exciting and dynamic for downtown.
“I think there’s a few things proposed this year that may make it more palatable for those not in favour of it,” Quiring said, adding, for example, the scope has been reduced to just two blocks of 30 Avenue.
To ensure a majority of 30 Avenue’s storefront merchants support the market, council has asked the Downtown Vernon Association to conduct a survey and report back on the findings before making its final call on the 2015 season. It’s frustrating news for the association’s executive director Lara Konkin, who says businesses have already been consulted through business walk surveys, face to face interviews and other means.
“Based on our surveys… the number is still well in excess of 90 per cent in favour,” Konkin said.
Organization is already well underway for a June 12 launch to this summer’s Avenue Market, and Konkin is confident the event will be going ahead.
“I have no doubt it will just continue to grow and be as successful, and more successful, for this 2015 season,” she said.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015