The Whistler Farmers’ Market will not kick off on Sunday, June 21, as scheduled.
Earlier this month, the Whistler Farmers’ Market board and market manager sent out a letter to its members explaining that the board had passed a unanimous motion not to host the market at its Upper Village location this year. The letter went on to say that “after months of negotiations, the highest number of vendors the market is currently able to accommodate represents only 13 per cent of our membership,” due to physical-distancing guidelines.
That would mean only 17 vendors would fit in the current space with the requisite two metres between vendors and customers. To that end, the board said the Upper Village was no longer a financially viable location.
“Pushing forward in the Upper Village would represent running a significant deficit for the organization,” the letter said.
The board and market manager then made an application to the Resort Municipality of Whistler’s (RMOW) Day Lot Parking Committee with the goal of hosting the market behind the Audain Art Museum on the day lot connector road. It calculated that space could accommodate 30 vendors.
However, the municipality declined the application. In an email the RMOW said the area wasn't a suitable location because the road is important for the flow of vehicles; parking traffic that would normally use the connector road would cause congestion on Lorimer Road and Blackcomb Way; and work is taking place in the adjacent Lot 4 to install overhead lighting and EV charging stations.
"We recognize the challenges the Whistler Farmers' Market is facing and want to work with them on finding a location that allows for their operations to meet physical distancing requirements," said the email.
In the meantime, "...we have delayed our opening day until we have a confirmed location,” Rossanne Clamp, market manager, wrote in a follow-up email.
Local farmers are now scrambling to find other weekend markets where they can sell their vegetables.
Plenty Wild Farms, a small-scale, certified organic farm in Pemberton, is currently working to find a way to make up for an approximately 50-per-cent loss of gross income if the Whistler market doesn’t run this year.
“It’s going to be pretty devastating,” said David Tanner, co-owner and operator of the farm. “I don’t know what’s next. We’re trying to hedge our bets and look at different market opportunities for Sunday. Then we’re also crossing our fingers and hoping that the board can make something happen.”
More to come…