City to consider merits of Avenue Market

The future of a downtown public market remains unknown

The future of a public market remains unknown.

On Monday, Vernon council will receive the results of a city survey into the Avenue Market and whether there is support among merchants.

“I believe the results are positive,” said Mary-Jo O’Keefe, president of the Downtown Vernon Association, which organizes Avenue Market from May to September.

“People were expecting a negative result but it reflects that the majority are happy with activity in the core.”

The city distributed 143 surveys along six blocks of 30th Avenue in October and 55 or 38.5 per cent were returned.

Businesses were asked if they participate in the market. The results were 18 per cent always, nine per cent sometimes and 73 per cent no.

The reasons for not participating were not appropriate for the business, not enough staff to stay open, personal choice and the market does not help their business.

When asked if they want the market to continue in 2016, 42 per cent said yes as is, 20 per cent said yes but on Saturdays, 20 per cent said yes but with changes, five per cent were neutral and 13 per cent said no.

Among the changes sought by those who want the market are a weekend event and moving the market off of 30th Avenue. Those opposed indicated a loss in business and the belief that market and street closures only help a few businesses.

Question three asked if the Avenue Market provides an economic benefit or economic cost for the business.

Twenty-seven per cent stated there was an economic benefic while 31 per cent reported an economic cost, 26 per cent were undecided and 16 per cent did not provide a response.

Among the comments from survey respondents to the question were, the market takes away parking, it brought more exposure to business, it allows for more interaction with the public and more staff is needed which increases costs.

The final question asked if the Avenue Market is good for downtown as a whole. Sixty-five per cent stated yes, 20 per cent said somewhat, nine per cent said no and six per cent did not respond.

O’Keefe hopes the survey results lead to council endorsing the return of the market.

“We need consistency — do it for three or five years and make it the best possible,” she said.

Mayor Akbal Mund isn’t sure how the city will proceed with the market.

“If more than 50 per cent of the businesses are saying there is no economic benefit, you have to consider if it’s something that should continue,” he said. “From these results, it shows it’s not working as is. Businesses look at the bottom line and the bottom line doesn’t make sense.”