April 15, 2014 - 12:34 PM
VERNON - Plans for a downtown summer market have stalled because council isn’t sure merchants in the area support the concept.
Before endorsing the idea of closing off 30 Avenue Fridays from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., city councillors want to be sure it’s what downtown shopkeepers want. The Downtown Vernon Association, which brought the proposal forward, has been asked to survey affected merchants.
“I talked to a few businesses down there, and they don’t support it,” Coun. Bob Spiers said during Monday’s city council meeting.
Coun. Juliette Cunningham isn’t confident all businesses are in favour of the idea either. She cited concerns over parking—shops would lose customer parking in front of their stores during market hours—as well as the competition vendors would present to downtown businesses.
“I haven’t really heard too many positive things from the merchants I’ve spoken to. They’ve asked me how did this evolve?” Cunningham said.
DVA executive director Lara Konkin attended the meeting and was disappointed with council’s direction.
“We have spoken to every business that we could (on) 30 Ave. and off.... Our board represents all those businesses and I am without a doubt convinced that we have the support of businesses on 30 Ave.,” she told reporters.
“We will definitely go ahead with the request and bring those results back to them as we have already surveyed those businesses.”
She said part of the problem might be that the original plan, which involved rotating the market between different ends of 30 Ave., changed to reflect transportation realities.
“I think what we’re hearing is a surprise because there was a change to the original plan,” Konkin said. “So if there is a bit of uncertainty it’s just a matter of getting that information to merchants.”
Coun. Mary Jo O'Keefe is confident the project will move ahead, if a little later than she'd like.
"I'm still hopeful it will be a good addition to our summer season to have that excitement happen on Main Street,” O'Keefe said.
Council will revisit the proposal April 28.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014