The Week — July 19: Victoria gets a permanent, public market

Hello, permanent market, city manager is asked back for three bonus years, skateboarding not so welcome downtown

Shopper Florence McGregor helps herself to a snack at last week’s Victoria Downtown Public Market.

Hello, permanent market

Foodies, get your shopping bags ready — Victoria is announcing the arrival of a new, permanent, indoor, downtown public market, coming to a historic location near you in spring of 2013.

The Victoria Downtown Public Market Society signed a contract with Townline Group this week to move what residents now know as the Victoria Downtown Public Market, held weekly in the summer months in Market Square, to the rehabilitated Hudson building on Douglas.

The move will take the market from its temporary outdoor location to an 18,000 square-foot indoor spot that will see up to 12 permanent vendors and 15 or more temporary vendors, thanks, in part, to almost $80,000 in grants from VanCity foundations and working negotiations with the Townline Group.

“I couldn’t be more excited about this,” says Philippe Lucas, chair of the VDPMS board, who spearheaded the efforts to secure the Hudson location. “This will become a new iconic structure for the downtown core, and this is really an option to revive its energy as we finally start a real, permanent market again.”

Townline and the society agreed to a five-year contract and working plan for the space, which would see the market go from weekly to daily, pending the society’s ability to secure enough interested and diversified vendors within a six-month period. The group is still considering vendor costs — which could clock in at around $30-per-square-foot, per year — and restrictions to keep the market affordable for the original Market Square crowd. One option includes maintaining an additional weekend market with cheaper temporary tables in the carriage way of the Hudson.

The market is being loosely modeled after a similar development in the San Francisco Ferry Building. Victoria’s version will maintain its local mandate, says Lucas, and will still include much of what Victorians have seen in the previous market, including bakers, butchers, green grocers, fishers and more.

The VDPMS will be hosting a meeting with all potential vendors on Thursday, July 26. For details on location and time, contact philippe@victoriapublicmarket.com, or 250-884-8552.

Welcome to Your job, again

Interesting news this week that the City of Victoria has approved a three-year contract extension for city manager Gail Stephens, two years before her term would come to a close.

Stephens has held her post with the city since July 2009, after returning to Victoria from Calgary. While her term was to last until 2014, her contract, which will remain unchanged, was extended this past week by city council, sealing her in until 2017. The city is staying tight-lipped on why the early move, however.

“I think council recognizes the benefits of having that stability at the top in a time when that really counts to a city, and she has done some fantastic work,” says Mayor Dean Fortin. “The position of city manager does offer unique challenges … but we’re really getting great value with Gail.”

When pressed about the timing of the preemptive extension, Fortin replied “What I can say, is that we had an opportunity to extend Gail’s contract for the extra time, and council jumped on that option.”

Stephens became the first woman city manager in Canada when she was named the Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Winnipeg. She’s also been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women three times, along with a slew of other honours. Value, indeed.

No room at boarding school

By Clare Walton

Skateboarding isn’t so free-wheeling anymore.

As VicPD continues to search for the suspect in last week’s errant skateboard collision, questions are being asked about how to make Victoria streets safer for pedestrians. The accident caused a 57-year-old woman to suffer serious facial injuries and her 57-year-old husband to dislocate his shoulder.

“We are still looking to identify that person for possible criminal charges,” says VicPD spokesperson Michael Russell. “We are trying to draw that link to see if we can find intent or some other circumstance around it, that will push the level from a municipal ticket to a criminal offence.”

A Red Zone has been established for years in downtown Victoria to keep skateboards away from pedestrians and busy downtown traffic. The zone, which runs from Herald to North Park and Vancouver to Southgate Superior, bans all skateboarding on roads and sidewalks. If a person is found skating in the area, they face a minimum of $60 in fines and the confiscation and impounding of their board. Outside of this zone, Bay to Cook, the police can still fine skaters, but they cannot confiscate their boards.

For a complete list of the city’s skateboarding bylaws, visit victoria.ca. M

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