The Cottonwood Market stalls will be taken down Monday. Plans are underway to have new structures in place for next spring’s market season.

Cottonwood Market stalls to be torn down next week

Nelson city council has agreed to develop a plan for a new Cottonwood Market and to tear down the existing structure.

Nelson city council agreed Monday to pay $12,000 to Cover Architecture, a Nelson company, to develop a plan for a new Cottonwood Market and to tear down the existing structure this month so new buildings may be in place by the next market season.

The $12,000 would come from the city’s consulting fees budget, and the cost of the buildings (upwards of $100,000) would be raised by the West Kootenay EcoSociety, which runs the market in the city-owned structures. It was reported at council a local business intends to contribute significantly to building the new structures, but no other details were given.

These plans will proceed a few steps ahead of the overall planning process for Railtown, which includes the market. But the Railtown plan will not be finished until May. This week’s staff recommendations to council stated that a design for a market “can be completed that does not impact the larger Railtown revitalization planning work.”

The proposal by Cover Architecture, which is attached to the online version of this story at nelsonstar.com and which does not yet have actual drawings, includes the following features:

  • Approximately 2,000 square feet (186 square meters) of covered area for vendors and pedestrian circulation.
  • Two durable washrooms with the potential for use beyond market hours.
  • A lockable facilities maintenance room and storage area for management use.
  • A covered bandshell that includes electrical services and a lockable storage area.
  • Audience seating incorporated into the landscape that may or may not be covered.
  • A play area.

Additional considerations:

  • Potential protective fencing along Cottonwood Creek.
  • Space for additional formal (paying) market vendors in proximity to the covered market stalls.
  • Space for informal (non-paying) market vendors in proximity to the covered market stalls.
  • Pedestrian and vehicular circulation on and around the site.
  • Pedestrian and vehicular connections between the market site and the remainder of Nelson.
  • Relationships between the new market and surrounding properties, including Cottonwood Park and other city properties.

The Cover Architecture proposal adds that future expansion could include additional covered and uncovered vending spots, future parking needs, and storage capacity for vendors.

Councillor Anna Purcell asked a question never asked at previous council discussions of the current market structures: “Exactly how are they dangerous?”

Mayor Deb Kozak responded that city public works staff had declared the structures dangerous. City manager Kevin Cormack said there is a liability issue and the only other option is to “board them up so they don’t fall down on people.” He said the EcoSociety agrees the structures are dangerous.

Councillor Robin Cherbo asked if the new structures could be made of wood. Cormack responded that would be an option and that the unn amed business that has stepped forward “deals in wood.”

Councillor Michael Dailly said he is worried about taking down the structures before funding is in place to rebuild. He wondered if the city is considering contributing more, since it owns the property and buildings. And councillor Bob Adams wondered if the city should pay the full amount.

“It is our building,” he said. “Why are we not paying for the whole thing? It is our building if it falls down and hurts somebody. Why are we waiting for someone else to fundraise for it?”

Cormack responded that the EcoSociety intends to raise money through grants and that the unnamed business contribution would be significant. He added that the contract would be with the city and it is public land, so ultimately council will have to approve the project design.

EcoSociety executive director David Reid, interviewed by the Star after the meeting, confirmed the EcoSociety will take on fundraising for the construction and expects to be successful because “the market is an important institution in the community, and many people want to see it succeed.”

The contract with Cover Architecture is small enough that it did not have to go to tender, according to city policies, Cormack told the Star. He said Cover’s proposal was reviewed by the EcoSociety and city management before it was brought to council.

Cottonwood Market