In advance of the Kamloops Regional Farmers’ Market opening later this month, organizers were at city hall on Tuesday, asking for public bathrooms and storage space.
In doing so, they also opened up their wallet.
“We would be happy to put forward between $7,000 and $10,000 a year for however many years it would take to build something [bathroom] or have something mobile on site or even nearby,” farmers’ market president Tristan Cavers told council.
The farmers’ market launched more than 40 years ago with four vendors and has since grown as abundantly as ruby red tomatoes on a hot summer’s day in Kamloops, with about 100 vendors and 5,000 visitors in 2019.
The market operates from late April to the end of October, Saturdays in the 200-block of St. Paul Street and Wednesdays in the 400-block of Victoria Street.
Council heard the market spends about $7,000 per year on portapotties, money it would like to redirect toward a more permanent bathroom initiative.
“It has its own challenges with deliveries and pick-ups of the porta-potties, but the secondary thing is having facilities for vendors, especially having good hand-washing facilities,” Cavers said. “So, we have sort of piecemeal operation right now, where people have developed relationships with downtown businesses where they can go and use a bathroom. There is hand sanitizer, obviously, in the cubicles or in the portapotties, but that’s not necessarily sufficient.”
Coun. Arjun Singh asked whether public washrooms already planned downtown would suffice. The city approved a public washroom facility to be built at the Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association storefront in the 300-block of Victoria Street, about a five-minute walk from the market.
However, Cavers said that location would not be accessible enough for elderly vendors, with too much time needed to use the washroom and return to the market.
Council did not make any commitments to the delegation following its request.
The farmer’s market will open on Saturday, April 20. Saturday markets will run from 8:30 a.m. to 12:3- p.m.
The first Wednesday market will open on May 1. Wednesday markets will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Vendors this year will no longer provide plastic bags to customers as part of a larger trend in banning single-use plastics. The delegation also brought reusable bags as a gift to council, a gesture intended to encourage the city to also ban single-use plastic bags.
Council recently directed staff to come back with bylaw changes to ban plastic bags at the checkouts of local stores.
Mayor Ken Christian noted the city has been making “extensive improvements” to the Stuart Wood site where the Saturday market operates, including new turf and an expanded children’s playground.