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Farmers' Market to move

The Kelowna Farmers' and Crafters' Market is on the move.

Despite a poll within the society membership saying no to a move, the Kelowna Farmers' and Crafters' Market Society (KFCMS) Board voted 9 -1 to pursue an opportunity to move the market.

Board president, Wolf Wesle says the market will move from its current location in a parking lot across from Orchard Park to Clement Avenue which currently houses the BC Fruit Packers Co-operative Fruit Market and warehouse.

Despite objections, marketing consultant Mark Pigott says the decision to move by the summer of 2015 was made with the long term future of the market in mind.

"The current farmers' market is unable to expand and is starting to lose ground in terms of keeping up with the growth of Kelowna and with bringing in vendors that can't get in because there is no capacity," says Pigott.

"It (current location) is constrictive, there is no room for expansion and frankly, and I'm sure Orchard Park will tell you, there is no guarantee we wouldn't be served notice at any point."

Pigott says the developer of the property, Gary Tebbutt with Compass Real Estate Development, has guaranteed a 15 year lease for the market guaranteeing a level of long term stability and affordability.

Wesle adds the business model of the farmers' market would remain the same, meaning it would be operational Wednesdays and Saturdays.

He says the fact they won't be required to pay the cost of things such as portable toilets should mean the cost to vendors could actually decrease. Plus, he expects to have space for between 185 and 195 vending stalls, up from the current 165.

"And, the city has indicated they would allow us to close part of one street (Vaughan Avenue) and expand the market which would be a major expansion," says Wesle.

Parking, says Wesle, would also improve significantly.

Wesle says there is room on-site for only 10 handicapped stalls at present. In the new location, he says they will have room for 600 or more vehicles.

The property would also include a separate, indoor public market which would utilize the current warehouse building.

Pigott says the developer has guaranteed the society a voice at the table in determining the type of businesses the public market will feature.

The Kelowna Farmers' and Crafters' Market has been at its current location for the past 18 years.

The new property, which stretches the entire block from Richter to Ethel streets and Clement to Vaughan Avenues, could also include a brewery and mixed use apartment complex.

The city has received a development application for the brewery, however, applications for the rest of the property have yet to be received.

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