Posted: Apr 9, 2007, 9:46 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Coquitlam/Rainbow Lake
Public market touted for Crystal Garden
Vendors operating out of the historic building would add vibrancy to the city, proponents say
Published: Monday, April 09, 2007
There's nothing like a big, empty historic building to inspire the imagination.
Trevor Walker, the owner of an eclectic store selling local food products and crafts on Fort Street, is imagining how wonderful it would be to have a public market in the Crystal Garden.
"Public markets are the heart of great cities and they are representative of a rich and desirable civic culture," Walker says in a preamble to a petition he has organized on the subject.
Customers at his store called Plenty at 1034 Fort St. think so as well. Walker has collected almost 270 signatures on a petition he has sent to Victoria city hall. It suggests some space be set aside in the building for such a market.
"Victoria needs a market and the Crystal Garden would be an amazing venue," Walker said, adding the use would still be compatible with the city's interest in utilizing the space to expand the Victoria Conference Centre.
Walker said he has always been inspired by public markets in San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver Island's Granville Market. Saint John, N.B., has had a successful public market in operation for more than 130 years and it is similar in size to Victoria.
A Victoria market doesn't have to be as large, but it would be a great place for both tourists and locals to mingle.
That kind of space is missing in downtown, said Walker. "Locals don't go to the wax museum or a conference centre.
"This would be a stepping stone for anyone who has had a table at James Bay or Moss Street and would like to go somewhere where they can be for six or seven days a week," said Walker, adding the market should specialize in locally produced food or products.
Jocelyn Jenkyns, acting manager of the conference centre, said a daily market wouldn't likely work in conjunction with using the space for added exhibition space. But she said she'd be open to hearing from anyone interested in organizing markets on conference centre shoulder seasons or on Sundays.
There's interest on the part of the city and the landlord, which is the Provincial Capital Commission, to accommodate community and fundraising events in the historic glass-roofed building, said Jenkyns.
But Jenkyns said it isn't the conference centre's role to organize a market. "Our mandate is to fill hotel beds."
Tomorrow the court is poised to hear an application for the city of Victoria to take over the lease of the Crystal Garden from the Royal Bank, which was left as the sole creditor after B.C. Experience went bankrupt in September 2006.
Court approval is the last remaining detail before the lease is transferred and small renovations are done to accommodate exhibition space for conferences.
Jenkyns said initially they will be adding washrooms, upgrading electrical service and making the main hall one contiguous space after the map installed by B.C. Experience operators is removed.
There are no short-term plans for an overhead or underground walkway across Douglas Street, connecting the original conference centre to the Crystal Garden.