March 26, 2014 - 5:00 PM
KELOWNA – We expect to know today if Kelowna's farmers market will join Urban Square downtown.
The Board of Directors of the Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market meet tonight to decide. The group is still trying to make sense of an informal survey held last weekend. Members didn't like the idea, polling 58 against and only 35 for moving.
“The membership opinion poll did not go as well as we thought,” says society president Wolfe Wesle.
Members also might not have all the information. The Kelowna Farmers and Crafters Market has been at the corner of Dilworth and Springfield for the last 18 years, but the future there is uncertain. Developments slated for that area will reduce parking—the need for another location is not going away.
Plans for a new indoor, Granville Island-style market on the old B.C. Tree Fruits lot were announced late last year, and developer Gary Tebbutt hoped vendors of the old Farmers Market would be eager to set up there twice a week. His offer guarantees the market 15 years at the same cost as the current lot.
“If it happens, great, we would welcome them,” he says. “They’re in alignment with what we’re going to stand for but if it doesn’t work out, it won’t change our plans either.”
The 7.5 acre Urban Square development will be built on the corner of Clement Ave. and include a craft brewery, a 36,000 square-metre public market and two four-storey buildings with 100,000 square metres of retail and office space.
Tebbutt says even if the Market Society declines the offer, he'll accept applications from individual vendors to move.
“I think there are a number of people in the Farmers and Crafters Market that would like to transition their business model into a year-round indoor market,” he says. “I don’t think the final chapter has been written yet. There is some controversy but at the end of the day, I think it will work out.”
Wesle says he’s hoping to reach a consensus tonight.
“I think we have to make a decision,” he says. “In my opinion, delaying any longer will not help and I think we’re losing credibility if we can’t come to a decision.”
Construction on Urban Square is set to begin next month.
— This story was corrected Mar. 27 at 9:40 a.m. to reflect the delay in the boards decision.
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