Efforts are continuing to establish a year-round public market in the former yacht club building in Lower Gibsons, but a July deadline to purchase the property has been pushed back to December, proponent Gerry Zipursky told the Town’s advisory planning commission (APC) on Aug. 13.
Zipursky, an APC member, said he and his partners, with assistance from Community Futures of the Sunshine Coast, secured an option to buy the property from its Vancouver-based owners seven months ago, paying a monthly non-refundable deposit that would go towards the purchase price if the deal closes.
Parking for the site, however, remains a major sticking point.
“How do you create a public market if there’s no adequate parking?” Zipursky asked.
The land around the former yacht club building is owned by the Town and leased to Gibsons Marina, and arbitration between the two over the terms of the lease renewal has gone through a series of delays, he said.
“So what we had to do was essentially secure an additional option on the property, which goes until Dec. 15,” Zipursky said. “But we certainly don’t want to be in a position where we continue with this non-refundable deposit and not have it happen until that particular time.”
The group, meanwhile, is honing in on investors who are willing to back the project as a community endeavour.
“It’s not like we’re looking for a return on this. We’re committed, but we’re hoping to get other people committed,” he said. “We’ve had a number of parlour meetings, met with over 450 people, and I’d say we’ve had 98 per cent support. Everyone has embraced this … which has been very encouraging.”
The market is conceived as “a mini Granville Island,” Zipursky said, adding that some have raised the question of how the market will sustain businesses during the long winter months.
One idea is to set up an educational component, such as an aquarium display highlighting the region’s diverse marine life, that “could draw youngsters from all of the Sunshine Coast and perhaps Vancouver,” he said.
Other ideas include a community kitchen, possibly with celebrity chefs using locally grown food, and regular entertainment, “so it becomes a place where, on a regular basis, people do activities. And it’s a place to go, a hub.”
The market would celebrate the “natural capital” of the region, but also its businesses, he said, possibly by offering top products from different businesses as “the best of the Sunshine Coast.”
APC member Katie Janyk said the shuttle bus service from Gibsons Landing, running this summer on a pilot basis, could tie in nicely with the public market if it gets off the ground.
“Those two things could feed into each other,” she said.