Comox council is taking a closer look at a proposed weekly seasonal market in downtown Comox this summer.
During a March council meeting, Cleo Tetrault and Holly Brotherston of Love Local Food Co. presented the idea of a market to create an opportunity for growers, small businesses and artisans to have a central location to grow their business in the town.
“It could bring people into a gathering space in a safe way with an open-air market … it would be unique to Comox,” explained Tetrault.
The pair told council they have partnered with the Comox Business in Action (BIA) and have secured a space in the Comox Mall parking lot that would be closed off to traffic (between Nordin and Port Augusta streets). They are hoping to host the market Thursday from 3 to 7 p.m. to allow people to visit after work and to avoid conflict with other Valley markets.
They are hoping to have the market up and running by June, but asked council for both in-kind and financial support for $33,500.
”We are looking for support to help manage and make sure this is grown sustainably,” added Tetrault. “We want to create vibrancy and help small business owners and help our downtown businesses thrive; we want this to help our community.”
The in-kind support the organizers are looking for from the town includes licensing, permits, zoning, road closure, power services and support with communication.
Following a question from Coun. Nicole Minions about a potential conflict with nearby Portside Produce Farm Market, the pair explained they spoke to the owner and he is in support of the market, but the location at 1770 Comox Ave. is not zoned for what they envision, and the mall location (with street closures) would work better.
Coun. Ken Grant told the pair the Community Charter prevents the town from giving cash donations but added he hopes council could find a way to make the market work but noted there are logistical issues.
“Anytime we’re creating a change in the community, there’s going to be those times for uncomfortable adjustments, but we really hope transit would work with us and find a solution where people could use more buses,” said Brotherston.
Jordan Wall, the town’s chief administrative officer told council the town could look for different ways to assist – it would require the municipality to take the project on itself – but there would be “no way we could get that ready for June.”
Mayor Russ Arnott said while there are many restraints, he noted the market could bring vibrancy to the town’s downtown.
The proposal was examined by council later in the meeting; they voted unanimously in favour to send the proposal to staff for a report.