To “live in a community you need to give back and be a part of it” is the philosophy that led Gerry Zipursky to helping form the beloved Gibsons Public Market, a new profile of the founding executive director reveals.
On June 30, the Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) shared Zipursky’s story as part of their Community Builder series profiling people who have instigated positive change in the region.
“The Gibsons Public Market is more than just a venue or building; it was created to help build a community where people would be engaged, sell their products and offer employment; a place to come together and help themselves,” Zipursky told ICET. “We wanted a place that was about more than selling goods and that would also attract locals year-round. That’s how we came up with the idea to also have a marine education centre and mini aquarium. We felt this would draw in young people and families to support the vendors and create a meeting place on the Sunshine Coast that would connect and build community.”
To build that community, more than 2,500 people shared their input and many volunteers dedicated their time. The ICET was one of the project’s first funders, providing $400,000. This year, the Gibsons Public Market is celebrating its fifth anniversary.
“We had more than 300 volunteers within that first-year help with the painting, landscaping, gutting…,” ICET quotes Zipursky. “It was truly a community project and most have credited this ‘hands-on’ involvement as what led to their current friendships."
And he’s not just known for his role in creating a community gathering place: Zipursky has also helped bond communities through producing documentary films, creating treatment for people in the Downtown Eastside and working internationally. These days, he works with Odd Squad Productions to provide prevention programs to youth in Greater Vancouver.