Sidney council prefers the middle of the road for the Sidney Summer Market.
They approved in principle, altering the configuration for the popular market that runs down Beacon Avenue on Thursday nights June through August.
“We all agree on the desired outcome,” said Mayor Larry Cross. “That’s the easy part, the harder part is how do we make it work successfully for everyone.”
Cross said that the town understands it’s a important economic issue for the entire community.
“We have to get involved in it more actively than we have in the past,” he added.
Businesses in Sidney brought up concerns over access to regular businesses under the current configuration of what Edward Connor calls the “second most successful street market in western Canada.”
Connor, CEO and president of the Sidney Business Association which runs the market, attended the council meeting Monday night as staff presented its report to council.
“We’ve had no input into this staff presentation,” Connor said. SBA worries include vehicle access during setup if the configuration is altered from two rows of vendors down the sides of Beacon Avenue, to a double row down the middle.
Staff noted that a road centre configuration would depend deeply on the organizer creating and implementing a safe and efficient vendor drop-off, set up and take down procedure for the event.
Patti Anthony, executive director of the SBA, explained that vendors are already lining up for this year’s market.
“If it takes too long to make a decision we will lose those vendors,” she said. “They will go to another market.”
“I’m a little concerned that it could disappear,” said Coun. Mervyn Lougher-Goodey. “We’ve got to make this work and satisfy as many people as possible.”
The SBA will get a voice in the changes. Council approved the alteration in principle pending consultation with business stakeholders prior to issuing the license to operate.
“We want to enhance it, but we want to make it work with existing businesses. People who own the stores can become a part of the market,” said Coun. Steve Price. “I’m sure that the number of vendors won’t change that much. … We have that chance for discussion to make it better.”