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

EDITORIAL: Port Alberni needs, wants street market

A street market is one way to capture some of the million vehicles that travel through Port Alberni

If the results of our decidely lopsided, un-scientific web poll this week are any indication, Port Alberni is ready for a summer street market.

In late 2016, the City of Port Alberni held a design charrette for the lower Johnston Road area. At the time, a street market was pitched as one idea to capture some of the estimated million vehicles that travel through Port Alberni on their way to the West Coast in the summer months.

The Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce is willing to plan a street market to open for the summer of 2018. They are looking at Margaret Street and Southgate, in the vicinity of Twin City Brewing and the Blue Marlin Inn.

To clarify: the proposed street market is not ‘yet another farmer’s market’ for the Alberni Valley. It would replace the Sunset Market that has already been running at Victoria Quay, but has faced challenges thanks to wind coming up the Alberni Inlet in the evenings.

The Sunset Market was originally a chamber of commerce entity, so it makes sense that the chamber take the lead on a street market. Chamber executive director Bill Collette stresses he will be working with the Hupacasath First Nation—which for the past few years has managed Sunset Market—on whatever street market is formed.

Collette is the first to admit the concept is in the early planning stages: he held a meeting to gauge interest among vendors, and now will look at finding a market manager, approaching businesses in the area around Twin City Brewing and contacting city council for requisite street closures. He stresses that the chamber does not want to lose money on this venture, so vendors should expect some sort of fee to participate.

For the naysayers opposing the street market, consider this: vendors from Port Alberni already go over the Hump to participate in Parksville’s summer street market. Why shouldn’t we offer them an opportunity to stay in town?

Parksville’s market already has a waiting list, so there are vendors who may be looking for a venue. Nanaimo also has plans to start its own street market, so the interest is there. Highway 4 at Kennedy Lake is facing nighttime closures during the summer for construction, so Port Alberni can anticipate an increase in tourists. The time to act is now.

Holding a summer street market in the lower Johnston Road area is a win for everyone.

— Alberni Valley News

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