Officials with the Gibsons Public Market say they expect more than 80,000 people will have been through the doors by the end of the year.
Pam Robertson of the Gibsons Community Building Society, which runs the market and the Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre, made the prediction in a presentation to Gibsons council July 24.
Robertson said, to date, the Society has brought in $5 million in contributions, from governments, businesses and individuals, with small businesses and individuals accounting for 70 per cent.
2018 is the first full year of operation for the market, which saw about 40,000 visits in 2017. The market now has seven merchants as well as a bistro, and the market and Marine Education Centre support 52 year-round jobs.
“We’re becoming the community hub that we’ve all envisioned,” Robertson said. “It won’t be very long before we should be welcoming 250,000 visitors a year and more to the market.”
She said there have been around 12,000 visits to the Marine Education Centre, which now has 30 exhibits, featuring 200 creatures from 70 species all native to local waters, and all set to be returned to the wild after their time in the tanks. The first “community release day” event is being planned for the fall.
“We’re really thrilled with the partnership we’ve built with School District No. 46, and the fact that students are starting to study outside the traditional education system at our Marine Education system,” said Robertson, who estimates there have been around 4,500 student visits this year.
“The positive community impact of this initiative has gone beyond what the previous council ever could have hoped for when it initially supported this, and beyond what this council ever could have hoped for as well,” said deputy mayor Silas White. “It’s especially terrific to see some of the numbers that are the results of the vision that originally put forward by the community members who wanted to start this years ago.”