The City of Vernon has been presented with a plan for a public market downtown.

The City of Vernon has been presented with a plan for a public market downtown.

Vernon pursues public market

Downtown Vernon public market may take root, complimenting existing markets

A market promoting locally produced food and  crafts could eventually take root downtown.

Vernon council has directed city staff to seek partnerships and funding for the possible development of a public market.

“Food security and supporting agriculture are on the agenda and this is an opportunity to build on that support,” said Coun. Buffy Baumbrough.

“It would be complementary to the existing farmers markets that are successful.”

A feasibility study has been done and it suggests a public market building that could be 10,000 to 11,000-square-feet in size downtown.

There could be about eight permanent spaces for restaurants or other uses, and then 20 kiosks. There could also possibly be open air stalls.

It’s also been suggested that a market could be done in co-operation with a visitor information centre.

Possible locations have been identified but not disclosed.

“A lot of the property is in private hands,” said Kevin Poole, the city’s economic development officer.

While parking could be an issue, Coun. Jack Gilroy supports a market being downtown.

“It has to go where people go. If you don’t have a flow of people, you are in serious trouble,” he said of the need for transit access.

It’s been proposed that the market would be operated by a society while private investors could be responsible for constructing the building.

However, Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe questions if a non-profit agency could handle operations.

“For this to succeed, you will need an entrepreneurial spirit,” she said.

The city has not committed itself to future funding for construction or operation of a market, and senior governments could be approached for capital grants.

The building shell could cost $2.2 million to construct while start-up costs could be $345,703 for a 11,138-square-foot facility (leasehold improvements, equipment, supplies and off-site works).

Development of the  feasibility study and business plan included consultation with the Vernon Farmers Market Association, Community Futures, the Food Action Society, Vernon Tourism, the economic development function and the Social Planning Council.

“There is a great deal of community interest in investigating the feasibility of a community market,” said Poole.