If you like shopping at outdoor markets, you may be in luck this year in downtown Salmon Arm.
Salmon Arm council gave unanimous approval to a request from the Shuswap Food Action Society to host its farmer’s market at the Ross Street Plaza and parking lot, given appropriate COVID-19 protocols and approvals from Interior Health are in place.
Council also expressed general support for a return of last year’s Alexander Plaza outdoor market and will await an official request from Downtown Salmon Arm regarding dates and hours.
As for the farmer’s market, a letter from society president Serena Caner said the market will be open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. from May 8 to Oct. 9.
Caner said that in 2020, despite COVID-19, the market saw between 1,000 and 1,200 people each weekend during the summer months.
Alexander Plaza came to be in 2020 when, prompted by the pandemic, Downtown Salmon Arm (DSA) spearheaded a pedestrian mall on Alexander Street between Lakeshore and Hudson on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The plaza began on July 4 and continued into September.
A survey showing support from the public for last year’s plaza was provided by DSA manager Lindsay Wong to council at its Jan. 25 meeting.
Coun. Kevin Flynn, council’s rep on the DSA, said, from what he’s heard from the community and visitors, they really liked the plaza and many would like to see it start earlier in the summer and go a little longer in the fall.
The survey generated 650 responses from people attending, 415 from residents and 235 from visitors.
Asked about their experience, ‘great’ received 221 responses, ‘good’ 217, ‘okay’ 16, and ‘bad/really bad,‘ zero.
Common positives included: love the music, good social event, great summer vibe, friendly, vendors doing a good job wearing masks. Common requests were: hands-on activities, different style of music, more kids activities, don’t allow smoking, more vendors, more seating and shade, better advertising.
Fourteen businesses on Alexander were polled prior to the plaza with two in favour (happy), two against and the remainder ‘okay.’ At the midpoint of the plaza opening, a survey to DSA members in general generated 18 responses. Eighty-two per cent said it was an effective way to increase pedestrian traffic downtown.
Coun. Debbie Cannon asked if DSA was able to reach out to those merchants opposed. DSA president Ron Langridge said only two or three had negative comments and he worked with one on accessibility to the store for deliveries.
He said he hopes to continue dialogue with merchants against, but overall feedback from the public was terrific.
“I think we’re just going to build on that. We hope we can gain support and trust from merchants who don’t think this is the right thing to do.”