The newly incorporated Kamloops Public Market Co-operative is meeting with the city and preparing to launch a membership drive, with the goal of building support and a business case for a year-round market at Riverside Park.
“What we are looking for is support for having this facility,” Kamloops Public Market Co-operative executive director Daphane Nelson told KTW.
The co-op is selling memberships to consumers, non-profits and businesses.
Consumers are asked to pitch in $20 for a share, while non-profits pay $60 and businesses pay $100. Early proposed concept stages propose the market be built in the parking lot next to Heritage House at Riverside Park and include indoor-outdoor market spaces, a rooftop garden, educational space, a patio, a community kitchen and an underground parkade.
Nelson said it would be the centrepiece of local economic development and community gathering.
“If you need a space for your metal band and you want to come and play, you’ll have a venue,” she said. “If you want to knit with your friends and want to sell your stuff, you can sit there and knit at a table and maybe sell some things along the side.”
Those behind the proposal have cited the Pybus Public Market in Wenatchee, Wash., as an idea to emulate.
Co-ops have been seen before in Kamloops.
A car-share program also previously attempted to get off the ground using a similar model. Nelson likened co-ops to credit unions, whereas contributing $5 to open an account could later result in dividends. So far, the market co-op has 10 members, most of whom helped found the co-op and market concept. Others include city councillor and local farmer Dieter Dudy, environmentalist Rick Dugan and architect Gregg Lindros.
“I would love all of Kamloops, everyone in Kamloops, to be a member of this co-op to show support for the amenity itself, as well as to recognize that it is going to be a really great thing that we can be proud of,” Nelson said.
Those who buy shares would be supporting the proposal, including the proposed location — which could be a potential sticking point.
The idea drew the ire of one downtown resident earlier this year, who first made the market concept public during a city council meeting, over the idea of commercializing Riverside Park. The City of Kamloops also recently released design concepts for a possible public market at the former Value Village location, as part of its downtown planning process.
City planning manager Jason Locke said that location was deemed suitable due to foot traffic along Victoria Street and proximity to the existing farmers’ market on Wednesdays in the 400-block of Victoria.
Nelson, however, pointed to Riverside Park for its green space, size, traffic capacity and spilloff to and from the park.
“It’s historically been the gathering place in Kamloops,” she said.
The co-op is meeting with city planners on Thursday to discuss visions for the proposal. Locke called the meeting “high level’ and said the city will look to understand the goals of the co-operative.
“At this point, it’s still brainstorming and discussing with them and that’s pretty much it,” he said.
The co-op hopes to eventually provide the city a business case and request a feasibility study.
For more information on the concept and to purchase a share, go online to https://www.kamloopspublicmarket.org. Questions can be emailed to email@example.com. Nelson said the co-operative is also seeking private donors who would like to see this vision come to fruition.
Should the project never see the light of day, however, money collected cannot be reimbursed under provincial co-op regulations and will be donated to a yet-to-be determined local non-profit group.