A farmer’s market announced for Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre this Saturday will likely be cancelled as organizers lack the necessary paper work. Municipal staff have also signalled opposition to the idea in light of COVID-19 concerns.
Peninsula Country Market, organizer of the Winter Market announced earlier this week, that it would be coming to Sidney after Central Saanich postponed the third and final edition of the market because of COVID-19 concerns.
“Peninsula Country Market is thrilled to announce that it will open on (Saturday) Dec. 5 9 a.m to 1 p.m. and (Saturday) Dec. 12 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Mary Winspear parking lot,” Lorea Tomsin said in a message Tuesday afternoon. The announcement thanked the “vision” of the facility for accommodating the market while promising “strict and careful” COVID-19 protocols. Organizers also advertised the event on social media.
Less than 48 hours later but past the publication deadline for Thursday’s print version of the Peninsula News Review, Tomsin said that the market will “probably not be happening” against what she called “delays in processing” on the market side. While volunteer organizers had advertised the market, municipal staff were still waiting to receive the necessary business license application Thursday morning.
Municipal staff also told organizers Wednesday that they could not be supporting a farmer’s market in the proposed location because of the current COVID-19 situation, Tomsin said. The Peninsula News Review did not learn of this development until after its print publication deadline.
When asked how much of a mistake it was to advertise an event before securing the necessary permission, Tomsin said organizers were hopeful. “We expected everything to be quite straight forward,” she said.
Tomsin had said earlier that she had spoken with municipal staff Monday, Nov. 30 and they sounded positive, even sending her the application. Tomsin later said staff left her with “no indication” the licence would not be processed. But various personal and technical circumstances delayed submission of the application with organizers set to submit it Thursday.
Paula Kully, Sidney’s communication manager, confirmed the market operator had contacted staff on Nov. 30 to ask about obtaining a business licence.
“At that time, [municipal] staff provided her with information on how to submit a business licence application and advised that all Health Canada, BC Health and Island Health regulations would need to be adhered to,” said Kully. “They did not provide any indication or opinion on whether or not the licence would be approved.”
Tomsin acknowledged that organizers could have handled the situation differently, while asking for understanding. “A lot of chaos and clearly we have a lot to learn,” she said.
Tomsin still wonders why farmer’s markets in other communities outside the Saanich Peninsula are still operating, pointing out again that farmer’s markets qualify as an essential service.
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