A representative of the Kamloops Public Market Co-operative was at city hall on Tuesday, presenting to council the public market concept it hopes to see replicated in the city’s core.
It is a vision larger than the one currently pitched as part of the city’s downtown plan.
The group’s acting executive director, Daphane Nelson, told KTW that while city planners have pitched a facility in the former Value Village location — at Seymour Street and Fifth Avenue — to enhance downtown, the group has a bigger and broader regional community amenity in mind for the Lorne Street parking lot at Riverside Park.
Nelson cited for council Pike Place Market in Seattle, the Public Market in Gibsons, on the Sunshine Coast, and Fork’s Public Market in Winnipeg and requested from council collaboration and exploration of such models, in turn offering to fundraise for the project.
Coun. Arjun Singh called the initiative a “really neat example” of citizens organizing, but questioned the proposed location.
“I’d find it hard to support that at this point,” he said, noting the location has been mired in controversy.
Nelson earlier told council that to create a community gathering place, the ideal site is a natural gathering place, a high-profile location with adequate parking and “not a privately owned mall or food court.”
Singh questioned the need for ample parking as society shifts toward alternative transportation.
Nelson said the public market would continue through the winter months with permanent tenants.
“You’ve got the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker,” she said.
Asked if such facilities should be public or private, Nelson said sometimes buildings are privately owned with non-profits or co-operatives running the facilities and profits returned to the community.
“It depends on who owns it and who runs it, what the model looks like,” she said, noting the group hopes to explore that with the city.
Kamloops Mayor Ken Christian said a public market fits council’s vision for a healthy Kamloops.
Council did not make clear any directions on the matter.
An initiative by the co-operative to sell shares in the idea is not being pursued for now.
“We put it on hold until we know more about whether the city is interested and wants us to be involved and help out,” Nelson told KTW.