A micro-unit market offering outdoor retail space is envisioned for downtown Campbell River, and now the city is encouraging locals to fill out a survey to share their thoughts on the project it says will boost local business vitality.
An artist rendering from September shows seven micro-units set up along Shoppers Row, across the street from the RBC bank and next to the Campbell River Art Gallery, which is a city-owned building.
Homeless people use this area, and last month CHEK News reported the city removed the gallery’s tax exemption and labelled it a “bad neighbour.” The unhoused often gather on the gallery’s lawn and at nearby Spirit Square.
At a council meeting in September, Coun. Ron Kerr said this was having “an extremely detrimental effect to our downtown businesses and visitations in our downtown area.” For example, earlier this year staff at the very same RBC bank reduced business hours due to safety concerns.
So the city is hoping the micro market will “increase local business vitality and stimulate visitor attraction and resident engagement,” reads a release Monday.
“The project will involve small and medium-sized businesses that are home or market-based and are looking to grow their businesses into a permanent retail location,” the city says, noting the units will offer short-term, affordable leases.
Last month, the city’s mayor, Kermit Dahl, said the project intended to create “incubator” opportunities for local businesses. The units will be available to lease for 12 to 36 months on a rotating basis, according to the Island Economic Trust (IET).
A similar style market opened in Langford in 2022.
The IET, which supports support economic diversification, is contributing $100,000 to the project in Campbell River, which has a budget of $650,000.
On its website, the city says the project is now in phase two, which sees staff develop goals, strategies and future plans. This should wrap up by December, then they’ll move on to phase three, Draft and Final Plan, which should conclude in 2024.
The community feedback will be presented to council early next year.
“The planning process involves ongoing engagement with the public, First Nations, community partners, a project team, City staff and Council at key stages of plan design,” says the city.
It’s seeking feedback from home-based businesses, small business owners, entrepreneurs, artisans and artists, Indigenous Peoples and members of the general public, and says people can fill out the survey online before Nov. 21.
In-person engagement is also happening on Nov. 17 and 18, and more information about these sessions should be posted on the city’s website.
“Moving this project forward with the support and valuable insights of the business community and residents in Campbell River and the Strathcona Regional District is incredibly exciting,” added Leah Knutson, the city’s economic development manager.
“Feedback from the businesses that will use this space and the residents that will frequent it will provide direction for the units, surrounding infrastructure and amenities, that will make this space a vibrant community hub.”
The IET says public consultation “will help determine the retail market’s exact location, building style, and feel.”
The online survey is here.