Vancouverites can't get enough locally grown foods and the society behind Vancouver Farmers Markets wants to meet that demand.
City council approved Feb. 14 $50,000, donated from Vancity credit union, for Your Local Farmers Market Society.
The money will help the Local Food First steering committee, which includes the city, Vancity, the market society and farmers, complete a business and site plan for a central food hub, called New City Market. It would include a year-round indoor farmers' markets, a farm product distribution centre, commercial kitchen, office, eatery, event and meeting space and education and public programs.
"We're interested in filling the gaps in our local food system," said Tara McDonald, executive director of the farmers' market society. "We're looking to create a facility that will be there as a public asset for future generations and will allow for more local food to come into Vancouver and to come onto our tables."
Local Food First hopes to redevelop an area on the False Creek Flats for the New City Market, according to the draft plan at newcitymarket.org. Planners envision a 20,000-square-foot market hall for 60 vendors and a 10,0000-square-foot plaza for 40 vendors with a farmers' market open Friday to Sunday and a chefs' market early Friday mornings.
Proponents would like a handful of wineries and microbreweries to sell their libations at markets, but doing so is prohibited.
McDonald told the Courier last week that a False Creek Flats location, the site of a city market that opened in the early 1900s, is only one possibility. An online poll asks respondents to vote on whether they want to see a market at the southeast corner of Main and Terminal, on the Great Northern Way Campus, at the southeast corner of Clark Drive and Terminal or on Malkin Avenue, near Strathcona Park. The proposed New City Market will be housed in a green building, either new or a retrofit.
McDonald hopes land for the market will be allocated shortly so that a capital campaign could start this year. The city report on the grant says the market could open its doors in 2014.
Research demonstrates that demand for local food is growing "with 70 per cent of adults reporting an increase in the amount of local food purchased," according to the city report.
"In 2010 Your Local Farmers Market Society had $4.6 million in vendor sales, up from $4.1 million in 2009," the report continues.
Local Food First believes a central food hub would create jobs.
"Already Vancouver farmers' markets are generating, through direct and indirect spending, $10 million within the regional economy every year," McDonald said.
She encourages the public to get involved.
"We're in a feedback and stakeholder engagement process right now," McDonald said. "This is the time to get involved and share your ideas and thoughts because the business plan is a draft plan."
A presentation and question and answer session about the proposed market is scheduled for a Meet Your Maker event, Feb. 27 at the Croatian Cultural Centre, 3250 Commercial Dr., at 9 a.m. For more information, see newcitymarket.org.