Market gets go-ahead for alcohol sales

Concerns of local establishments heard by Langford councillor

The Goldstream Farmers Market will be able to sell and sample locally produced alcohol in the upcoming market season.

“We love our market,” said Coun. Lillian Szpak. “We look forward to them growing and flourishing.”

The approval came after representatives from the local market asked council to reconsider allowing its vendors to sell and sample locally made wine, cider and mead. Szpak and Mike Leskiw, Langford’s manager of parks and recreation, sat down with representatives of the Goldstream Farmers Market and the local business community last month – at council’s request – to discuss the matter in detail.

Concerns were voiced at the meeting that the market could undercut the prices of businesses selling alcohol. But market vendors, unlike stores, will only be able to sell alcohol one bottle at a time and not by the case. And as with liquor merchants, their prices are dictated largely by provincial regulations.

Szpak said area businesses could benefit, because if customers like what they’ve purchased at the market, they may look for it in stores. “That’s where we’re seeing a mutual benefit … I think we found a good compromise.”

Council decided to allow for up to two stalls to sample and sell alcohol at the market.

Despite a relatively new batch of liquor laws that allow for the tasting and sale of alcohol at farmers markets across the province, the local market has not been able to include those activities due to its location. Since the market takes place in Veterans Memorial Park, sampling would directly contradict Langford bylaws that prohibit the consumption of alcohol in parks.

Council has previously considered – and rejected – this request twice, stating no alcohol should be consumed at Veterans Memorial Park. Some council members have even gone as far as to state that the sale of alcohol would be disrespectful to the park’s legacy.

However, Szpak said “that didn’t come up this time at all.”

She did say council would check back in with market representatives at the end of the season to see how this compromise was working. “We’ve worked together for over 10 years … We’ve had a highly collaborative relationship,” she added, one that has often proven mutually beneficial.

Not only does the market add to the community culturally, she said, it attracts people to the area who then use other services or shop at other businesses in Langford.

Elaine Baglo, Goldstream Farmers Market manager, said their board is thrilled with council’s decision, especially with the market heading into its 10th year in Langford. She noted there are already a couple of local wineries interested in becoming vendors.

This season will see the market grow, with vendors selling everything from meat and baked goods to produce and wine – all the elements to make a full meal. Baglo noted their selection of artisan crafters is also expanding.

The first market of the year takes place on Saturday, May 7, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. There will be cake, free plants, entertainment by the Rollie Barrett Band and a park full of vendors, including one marketing wine.

Applications are being accepted from potential vendors. For more information go to goldstreamfarmersmarket.ca.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

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