A year-round public market could soon be on the horizon for the city, more specifically Riverside Park. According to a recent survey conducted over the holiday season by the Kamloops Public Market Co-operative (KPM Co-op), the majority of respondents supported the idea of having a public market next to the Heritage House in Riverside Park.
The survey, which concluded on Dec. 28, had 827 respondents. Of those, 368 were not in favour of the Riverside Park location and of these 368, 100 were not in favour of the project moving forward at all. The remaining 459 responses either provided a positive response or were undecided about location.
According to KMP Co-op executive director Daphane Nelson, the idea for a public market in Kamloops started around this time last year.
“So the Kamloops Public Market Cooperative is a group, we have seven directors on the board. We all volunteer at this point and there were originally three guys who came together after they went to Pybus Public Market in Wenatchee, Washington. Their population is only like 30,000 people or something but it’s this huge beautiful building,” Nelson said. “Our concept wants to be something like that. Something central, something for a marketplace but also provide ample opportunity for community gathering.”
In addition to providing locally sourced food, Nelson and KPM Co-op believe that a public market at Riverside Park could potentially revitalize the community by creating a sense of belonging and togetherness. Nelson notes that this could be particularly beneficial for international students and others from out of town.
“To me, I really see support coming from students up here because there is a lot of international students who are accustomed to having a marketplace like this in their hometown, cities or countries. All of that stuff, that is where you get your stuff. Our concept of having individual malls and stuff is probably foreign. [This public market] is also a community gathering space.”
While providing local produce and other food would be the main function of the public market, it could also serve as a community centre, offering the best in crafts, music, heritage and culture, says Nelson.
While other locations for a public market have been discussed, KPM Co-op believes that Riverside would be the best location due to the park already being a popular venue for arts and culture and the continual densification of the downtown core.
“If you think about the densification that is happening downtown, I can’t remember the number but a lot of people work downtown. So then you go for a walk on your lunch break, you grab your groceries, grab your lunch and then go back to work and then you go home kind of thing,” Nelson said. “People will come down to the park, hit up an event and whatever. I just really agree that I don’t see a better location for it.”
Now that the survey has been completed, the next step for KPM Co-op will be getting support from the city. While an actual budget for the project has not been released as of yet, Nelson has said that a ballpark estimate would be between $20-30 million. Financing for the project wouldn’t all be left up to taxpayers either, says Nelson, who proposes to use infrastructure grants and fundraising.
While the actual construction of a public market may still be some time away, Nelson is quite satisfied with the support the project has already received.
“Imagine if Kamloops was actually a destination people looked forward to visiting instead of just a blip. For the tourism component, for local community gathering, for overall overarching community organizations coming together, imagine having this full-on collaboration between the City, Tk’emlups, the TNRD and Community Futures,” she said. “There are just so many possibilities of people coming together to create something exciting for people outside of Kamloops to come see.”