Parksville Museum officials painted a positive picture of this summer’s Friday night farmers’ market to city council on Monday night.
“We connected two unlikely entities,” Peter Kawerau, the president of the Parksville and District Historical Society, said of the market and the museum. “The outcome was greater than the individual components.”
The main benefit brought by the Friday night Farmers’ Market was increased attendance to the site, said Kawerau. The museum averaged 2,252 visitors over the past three summers. This year, attendance increased 436 per cent to 9,829.
“We were expecting 200-300 people (a night, for the market),” said society vice-president David Haynes. “There was an average of 680 people over four hours.”
Another surprise was where market clients originated. While many people walked over from Craig Bay as expected, the society found that one-third more people came out from Parksville. They also found that 54 per cent of all market customers were not from the local area at all. Many of these visitors were tourists staying at Pacific Shores and Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park. In fact, there was some suggestion over the summer that transportation be run from Pacific Shores to the market in order to accommodate this tourist population. Aside from attendance, all these visitors also boosted revenue. This year, the museum doubled its income for the season, as well as receiving several valuable donations for their collection.
Benefits were felt by the vendors as well. According to Kawerau, the event had several “sell-out markets” where at least 80 per cent of available goods were sold. Vendors included local artisans and farmers and non-profit organizations.
While many Councillors quickly congratulated the Society, Councillor Marc Lefebvre brought up concerns about parking at the event. He questioned if parking could “become an issue” if the market continues to grow.
“I don’t know if there’s an ideal solution,” responded Kawerau. However, he assured Councillor Lefebvre that “there is a long stretch of NorthWest Bay Rd to park on” and that the RCMP said there was “no problem” about people parking on the side of the road and walking to the event as long as traffic was not impeded.
Haynes added that parking spaces constantly opened up throughout the night as there was a “constant flow” of people at the market with an “average of 60 clients on site” at a time.
The market did not receive any complaints about parking, noise or litter.
“It’s a success story,” Burger said of the event, who encouraged the P & D Historical Society to take the steps needed to continue the market.
The Society plans to seek approval to grow the Farmers Market in summer 2015, as well as to host similar events throughout the year. They also spoke of looking into rezoning the site to make it appropriate for markets.
Briefly, in other news from Parksville city council’s meeting Monday night”
• A public hearing addressed two bylaw amendments that would allow the Kingsley Low Rental Housing Society to build affordable housing at 312 Hirst Ave. W. The major concern raised by residents near the site was potential lost privacy due to the new building’s height and balconies. The Society’s Duane Round ensured that the company has taken these concerns into consideration and “will work with any adjacent properties.”
• Mike Hamilton of Palladian Developments presented a rezoning application for 234 and 244 Mills St. where the Joe Cunningham Ford dealership wishes to expand its Parksville location. Council passed first reading of the required zoning and development bylaw amendment — it would facilitate a vehicle parking and display area. Second reading and the setting of a public hearing date is to come at a future council meeting.
• Council approved sending at letter to the provincial government that outline’s the city’s concerns regarding the proposed amendments to the B.C. Building Code. In particular, the city feels the new code should include requirements for fire suppression sprinklers. The new B.C. Building Code would create a uniform minimum code for all of B.C. and would place the province as its sole authority.
• Council issued a development permit to Parksville Properties Corp. Inc. to allow the construction of a new building, parking lot and landscaping for the B.C. Liquor Store at the south end of Wembley Mall. The permit includes the requirement of a $22,144 deposit, to ensure landscaping completion.
• Council received a report that reviewed the city’s Grant-in-Aid policy. Included in the report is a draft policy that clarifies the language to make the policy more “user-friendly” but does not change the grant structure. Currently, Parksville has a budget of $5,000 for its Grant-in-Aid policy; this amount will not be changed if the draft policy is approved.
• The mayor was authorized to sign the FortisBC Energy (Vancouver Island) Inc. Operating Agreement, and council moved to endorse the AVICC recommended Gas Operation Agreement. This would bring an estimated $98,910 of new annual revenue to the city starting in 2016.
• Council approved the appointment of Jacqueline de Jong as the new Bylaw Enforcement Officer. De Jong will step into her new role Sept. 29, 2015 and continue until Bylaw Enforcement Officer Craig Reid returns from an approved leave.
• Council received the 2014 Union Collective Agreement report, which outlines the potential renewal of the agreement between the city and CUPE Local 401 for Jan. 1, 2014 to Dec. 31, 2017. The negotiated renewal includes a one per cent wage increase each Jan.1 and Jul. 1, 0.5 per cent in additional benefits and improved language for overtime and consideration of casual / temporary employees for permanent positions.
• Council gave final approval for permissive tax exemption bylaw.