New Season, New Site for Wilson Square Farmers Market
Prince George, B.C. – The Wilson Square Community Farmers Market opens its 2017 season today at a new location in downtown Prince George.
Following a one-year stay in the northwest corner parking lot of the Pine Centre Mall, the market has made a move to the lot outside the Prince George Native Friendship Centre on Third Avenue. Market spokesperson Maria Pennock says another move really wasn’t in the plans at all. “Up until (this) January” she says “we already had our deposit down at the Pine Centre. We thought everything was hunky dory and then in February we found out that they’re going to do construction at the Pine Centre and they didn’t have room for us. So once again we were on the move to look for a new location.”
The Operations Manager and interim General Manager at Pine Centre, Paulo Branco, says “we are looking at potential options for putting another building in that location but right now there’s nothing concrete. It is true, but as for a timeline we’re not quite sure. We just thought it would be unfair to give the Farmers Market that location and then, at some point through the year, have to kick them out. And it would have been unfair to everybody if they show up on a Saturday and instead of a Farmers Market it’s all taped off and we’ve got someone digging a hole.”
Branco says Pine Centre has applied for a development permit with the City and “we’ve got the okay from the City as far as the concept, but it’s a little bit up in the air as yet.”
Pennock says with a chuckle that the association has adopted the slogan “Keep Calm and Market On” in light of its recent adventures. “And there we go again, that seems to be our M.O. over the last few years. But we’re hoping this is our forever home now. Our ideals and our community mindset falls into place nicely with the Native Friendship Centre. They have the community food box as well, so that kind of works together and just the supporting of the community, and keeping people together.”
“The last thing we want to see is 60 vendors without employment, which essentially is where we were at. So we’re back in the downtown core and I’m hoping this is going to be a really good fit and this is going to be our forever home.”
And she says throughout the upheaval, short notice and scrambling to find a new location “our customers have been really great, they’ve been following us all over Prince George, so that’s been wonderful, our customers are amazing. So, we just let them know we’re on the move again. And Books and Company, who is right across from us, is excited about us being there and the neighbours are happy that we’re coming into the area so that’s great too.”
“The negotiations (with the Prince George Native Friendship Centre) have been amazing, those we’ve spoken to are just awesome, they want us there. I just think it’s a win-win all the way around so I’m hoping we can grow this into something that’s great for everybody.”
As far as opening day of the new season goes, Pennock says “last year we finished at Pine Centre with 60 vendors so we’re hoping for about the same. I don’t know if our first market, with our produce and things not being ready, will have that many but we’ll have a really good showing.”
The Wilson Square Community Farmers Market is open on Saturdays, at least for now, from 8:30 am to 2 pm and there will be some special “fun stuff” occurring today to kick off the season.