Ukee council: One market, one business licence, okay

Ucluelet will allow the Ucluelet Public Market Society to purchase one business licence that covers all its vendors rather than charge each vendor an individual fee.

As was recently reported in the Westerly News, the society locked horns with the district over vendors being asked to purchase a $125 business licence in order to set up shop on Ucluelet’s village green during Friday markets. In July, Ucluelet’s municipal council reviewed a letter from the society that argued asking each vendor to purchase a business licence from the district is unrealistic and that one all-encompassing licence for the whole market would make more sense.

Council was unable to make a decision during July’s meeting so the issue landed back on the table last week and society member Cody Naples presented as a formal delegation on behalf of the society.

Naples said the BC Farmers Market Association discourages districts from imposing individual business licence fees on public market vendors.

He said the society is already charging its vendors a $15 drop-in fee per market or a $125 fee for the entire

three-month season.

“If we have to tell these vendors that they also need to purchase a business licence before coming out, as well as pay these vendor fees on top of that, it’s going to deter the small vendors from coming out,” Naples said.

He said about six vendors have purchased a season’s pass from the market society and about two drop-in vendors come in each week.

“It’s pretty bare bones right now…we’re not large enough or profitable enough to be turning away the vendors who can’t buy the licence,” he said.

He pleaded with council not to add to the workload of volunteers or discourage people from getting involved in the market.

“What you stand to lose is a growing vibrant market downtown , a market that

encourages community involvement,” he said.

“We’re on our third year now and for the past three years the district has received a volunteer-run market that organizes a free event with live music in downtown Ucluelet.”

After hearing that the society already charges fees to vendors, Corlazzoli said he was in favour of allowing it to operate under one blanket business licence.

Coun. Geoff Lyons asked if the district had received any objections from local business owners who pay property taxes and purchase business licences but district staff responded few complaints have been received during the market’s three-year tenure.

Oliwa, who noted his objection to the market’s request last month, said he

was surprised to have heard no negative opinions from local businesses.

“I’ve actually heard nothing but good stuff about the market,” he said. “I would have thought by now we would have had somebody come forward…but I have had no negative comments at all.”

Mayor Bill Irving was in favour of the society’s request but suggested they adjust their fee structure to give locals a break rather than charge everyone the same price to play.

“I know we’re trying to attract and get things rolling and keep high activity but I think locals should be the advantaged group somehow in your fee structure,” he said.

This was met with objection from

both Coun. Sally Mole and Coun.

Dario Corlazzoli who spoke to the value of attracting out-of-town vendors.

Mole suggested outside vendors bring in items that are not grown on the West Coast and this boosts the market’s vibrancy.

Corlazzoli added out-of-town vendors increase the size and capacity of the market and promote growth.

“It encourages locals to get involved because they can see that it’s not just two or three vendors, it has a good variety so it attracts all different types of people especially tourists,” he said.

“We need to attract people from everywhere to enjoy it and to get it to the point where you’ve got more than five or six (vendors) you’ve

got 10 to 20 to 30 (vendors) and it becomes a draw for everyone so you’ll get more locals coming down as well.”

Naples said out-of-town vendors often bring their families and make a vacation out of their stay, which brings spin-off benefits to the tourism economy.

With council’s blessing in hand, the market society will now work with district staff to draw up an agreement that will see the society operating under one business licence.

No public hearing is necessary. The agreement will be reviewed each year and will also fall under the umbrella of Ucluelet’s regular business licence bylaw reviews.

reporter@westerlynews.ca