Visitors and vendors crowd the popular Craig Street Summer by the Sea Market in Parksville. — Black Press file photo

Alberni chamber pitches street market for summer

Market would capture attention of west coast traffic, says chamber’s Bill Collette

Vendors are cautiously optimistic about plans to create a street market on lower Johnston Road in Port Alberni this summer.

More than two dozen people gathered at the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce last Friday to talk about the concept, which would replace the summer Sunset Market that has been featured at Victoria Quay or Clutesi Haven Marina over the past few years. Chamber executive director Bill Collette hosted the meeting to gauge interest in a street market.

Vendors at the meeting were favourable to the concept. Some of them had left the Sunset Market due to challenges with the wind in the past couple of summers, but indicated they would support a street market in a more sheltered area.

“It was always the goal and vision to grow and get bigger, and get more vendors,” said Jolleen Dick, who started the Sunset Market while she was working with the chamber of commerce. When she was elected as a councillor with the Hupacasath First Nation she brought the market under Hupacasath management. Now, the chamber has offered to be point for the new street market.

Dick supports moving the market up a block and creating a street venue. “The wind was a problem.”

She is convinced they will be a draw for tourists in the summer. “I love markets; Everywhere I go visit a city, I go to a market,” she said.

Collette has applied for a grant from the Nuu-chah-nulth Employment and Training Program (NETP) for two people under the special projects banner. Ideally, he would like to find a full-time manager for the market. “We need full time right away to do all our homework and contact people,” he said.

Collette will start talking to other businesses in the area to decide how far the road closures should go. Twin City Brewing and Em Salon have already indicated they’d like to participate, he said. He also has not approached the city to ask about road closures, but said there is precedent for events the Blue Marlin Inn has hosted on Margaret Street.

Ideally, Collette and his assistant, tourism and visitor information counsellor Jane Roth, would like to start the street market in June.

Anyone wishing to become involved can reach Collette or Jane Roth at the chamber, 250-724-6535.

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