The stage would be used for a variety of community events in addition to the market. The back of the stage will be used for art or other visual presentations.Illustrations: City of Nelson

Nelson council endorses Cottonwood Market stage concept

Market will be ready this summer, the stage next summer

Council voted on July 4 to accept the current concept drawings of the proposed Cottonwood Market stage. The city will go ahead with engineering details for construction next summer.

“This will exceed everyone’s expectations,” the project’s architect Lukas Armstrong told council.

“As an outdoor stage, I want it to be busy every night of the week in the summer. Like the shelters at Lakeside Park, we want it to be multi-functional.”

The back of the stage will be used for art or other visual presentations. Illustration: City of Nelson

The proposed stage will be made of cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels, a type of manufactured wood that provides structural integrity without the use of posts and beams, and purports to use wood exclusively from sustainably managed forests.

Armstrong’s written presentation and drawings are attached below.

This is the second time council has approved a stage design for the market. Another version was approved in March, 2016, as part of a $600,000 plan for permanent market structures that was eventually abandoned.

Izu-shi Friendship Society: ‘Think of the park as a whole’

One of the important stakeholders is the Izu-shi Friendship Society, which founded and maintains the Friendship Garden in the city-owned Cottonwood Falls Park.

The society’s John Armstrong, in an interview with the Star, seemed cautiously optimistic that the new stage design will work. He said the society has repeatedly stressed to the city the importance of thinking of the park as a whole.

“When the plans first came out it was all about the market,” he said. “The garden was just this green background. But we always tried to encourage people to see the park as a whole, in its relationship with the waterfall and the creek, the structures, the garden, the gate, the bridge, the stone lantern, all in a kind of harmony. That is what we have been working towards.”

He likes the proposed openings in the back of the stage, making the park visible, and also the idea for murals or other visual presentations on the walls of the back of the stage “so that we’re not looking at black walls, which was the way it was presented in the beginning.”

So he’s guardedly satisfied.

“We feel we have to trust the vision and the professionalism of the architect and the professionalism of the city. We have given our opinion for a year or two and we feel we should trust them to go ahead and achieve that. If we can see some harmony with the garden, the creek, the waterfall, the community, then we are supporting it.”

A cost breakdown

City manager Kevin Cormack told the Star it’s useful to think of the new market in four components: the market plaza, the stage, the washrooms, and a new traditional Japanese gate to be built at the east end of the footbridge.

The total cost of the market plaza construction will be $141,000, minus a Columbia Basin Trust grant of $40,178 already received, for a total of about $101,000 of city money.

Cormack said vendors will move onto the new market plaza later this summer.

The cost of the stage is estimated at $40,000, minus $10,000 of committed in-kind contributions from Spearhead Timberworks and the Kelowna wood products company Structurlam.

The remaining $30,000 will not come from city taxpayers, Cormack said, but is dependent on grant funding — grants which he said have not been applied for yet.

The Izu-Shi Friendship Society’s gate will not be paid for by the city, but with funds obtained by the society including $17,000 from the Columbia Basin Trust.

The cost and timeline for construction of new washrooms is unknown at this point, Cormack said, and the city will be looking for grant funding. In the meantime, the current washrooms at the market will remain.

The West Kootenay Eco-Society, which runs the market, says it’s satisfied.

“As long as the Cottonwood Market performers are covered from the elements and are amplified so market goers can hear their music, then the city’s stage will meet the EcoSociety’s needs to make sure the Cottonwood markets are vibrant,” said the society’s executive director Montana Burgess.

Burgess also expressed satisfaction that the stage would be made of sustainable materials.

“There were meetings with the EcoSociety leading up to the stage design,” said Cormack, “and we will continue to consult with them as a key user.”

At the July 4 council meeting, Councillors Michael Dailly and Janice Morrison spoke admiringly of the design while admitting they had been expecting a more traditional band-shell. Council’s vote in favour of the proposed design was unanimous.

Acoustics, materials and design

Architect Lukas Armstrong said his design takes acoustics into account but pointed out that most performers use microphones in most situations, especially in outdoor venues.

In written materials presented to council, Armstrong refers to the stage as “a cathedral like space that is warm and vibrant due to the use of B.C. wood.”

The shape of the stage is not a traditional bandshell for good reason, he writes.

“Simplifying the stage to a single flat roof would of course cost less, but would not have the same energy. Creating a curved bandshell would cost significantly more.”

Other sample excerpts from the architect’s presentation:

• “The wall and roof height has been designed to balance the need for performer weather protection without creating a refuge for the transient population.”

• “The geometry in the walls create triangulation which provides shear strength. As a result we do not need cross braces or knee braces that create pigeon perches.”

• “The predominant material in the project is a BC value added wood product. Given the current state of the industry, value added products are important to both our local and provincial economies. There is the strong potential of winning a wood first award from the province.”

• “The city will have a new rentable outdoor event space that has the potential to act as a catalyst for the Railtown renewal plan. The arts community will have a new performance space with the potential for summer programming through lunch hours, all day on Sunday, and every evening seven days a week.”

The rest of Lukas Armstrong’s written and illustrative material can be found in the attachment below.


Cottonwood Market stalls to be demolished (September 4, 2015)

Nelson citizens present new ideas for Railtown (February 27, 2016)

Council endorses Cottonwood Market concept (March 23, 2016)

New Railtown plan presented (June 17, 2016)

Temporary Cottonwood Market an improvement, vendors say (August 13, 2016)

Nelson Council approves Railtown development plan (December 15, 2016)

New Cottonwood Market plan unveiled (January 26, 2017)

Nelson council to vote Tuesday on Cottonwood Market stage design (June 4, 2017)

Cottonwood Park Stage by BillMetcalfe on Scribd


The city is currently constructing the market plaza, with power and water hookups. The stage will be placed at the far end, next to Cottonwood Park. The market will spill over into the area that is currently occupied by the market. Three cherry trees removed by the city for this construction will be replaced elsewhere in the park. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

The back of the stage will be used for art or other visual presentations. Illustration: City of Nelson

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