Invermere’s two newest councillors – Ute Juras and Kayja Becker – joined together to question a proposed location change for the upcoming Invermere Farmers and Artists Market.
The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 71 Windermere District, which runs the market, proposed that council allow them to relocate the summer market from 6th Avenue to the Lakeview Parking Lot behind the Eddie Mountain Memorial Arena. The move would allow for better emergency access on 6th Avenue.
The newest councillors didn’t think the vendors had enough time to prepare for the change and thought that existing vendors should be consulted face-to-face before making a move.
Jamie Painchaud, who runs Bluebird Nights, told council that while she received emails about the market, she wasn’t approached for an in-person conversation about moving the market and said other vendors, business owners and friends weren’t aware of the proposed move.
“I personally bank on this market big… I would hate to think how chaotic and stressful starting over is going to be,” she said. “As a vendor I think it’s important for this town’s market to be as visible and accessible as possible, so as to attract as many visitors as we can. I fear that by moving it to the back parking lot we lose that visibility from main street, which is crucial for attracting new visitors who may not know about our market.”
Councillor Greg Anderson referred to an online poll from the Legion that said around 75 per cent of vendors supported the move. He proposed that council delay making its decision until April to give the Legion a few more weeks to consult with vendors and nearby businesses.
But Ms. Becker said delaying the decision would mean additional uncertainty for vendors and that “it’s going to smush (the timeline) even more.”
While the market is currently accepting applications for the proposed parking lot location and advising vendors that applications will be reconsidered if the move isn’t approved, she said vendors need to know what they’re getting “before they’re paying a fee for a mystery market.”
Ms. Juras said she empathizes with the vendors and that there’s no need to rush the decision.
“I honestly don’t see the harm of deferring it for a year,” she said, adding that a delay is preferable to “basically shov(ing) it down people’s throats.”
With councillor Gerry Taft excusing himself from the vote as he may want to have a booth at the market, Mr. Anderson’s motion to decide on the move in April ended in a tie with support from Mayor Al Miller and opposition from Ms. Juras and Ms. Becker. Since a tie means that a motion can’t proceed, council chose not to set a date to reconsider the move and is instead asking the Legion to meet with market vendors.
“If the majority truly is informed and still wants this I would stand by it,” Ms. Painchaud said.
The market will continue in the current 6th Avenue location.