Developer holds out hope farmers' market may still move

The developer working on a new Granville Island-style permanent market on Clement Avenue says he's expecting news on the fate of the Kelowna Farmers' and Crafters' Market could change as soon as next week.

Over the weekend, the voting members of the market, about a quarter of the vendors involved, shot down an opportunity to move to the parking lot of a new permanent facility in the North End of Kelowna.

"I don't think it's a fair representation," said Gary Tebbutt, noting of the 360 vendours, only 93 voted. There were another 32 eligible to vote, who opted not to, and the rest are vendors that have not managed to secure a permanent table at the site near Orchard Park Mall where farmers and artisans line up for the chance to sell.

While the market offers a natural synergy for the development Tebbutt is spearheading, its presence, or lack there of, will have no impact on the project, he said. But he was nonetheless hoping to see it move to the new location.

"It's a bit of a disappointment because we think they're a great fit and really closely aligned with what we're doing," Tebbutt said.

The Farmers' and Crafters' Market president, Wolfe Wesle, has already suggested the controversy may divide its members into factions and result in two separate farmers' markets in the city. The site across from Orchard Park Mall is not very secure in his view and Tebbutt echoed his concerns.

The mall will soon grow to include Old Navy and Cora's Restaurant, possibly increasing demand for parking, and as the mall owns the lot the farmers are currently using, securing a new lease could get harder, Tebbutt pointed out.

The new market development he's spearheading on Clement will include a brewery on a two-acre parcel, the market on a 2.5-acre lot, and four and five-storey office buildings next door. The entire project also sits next to the site for the new police station, currently progressing under the City of Kelowna's direction; altogether it adds up to 190,000 square feet of new development in the two-block span.

Noting that the Central Okanagan School District's office provides the other main parking for the Farmers' and Crafters' Market, and it is up for sale, Tebbutt said he is quite doubtful the market vendors pushing the move will let the issue die.

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