EDITORIAL: Markets are all about local fare

Now that alcohol sales are allowed at markets, let's look into whether people want it and help make it happen if they do

The operators of Goldstream Station Market were recently granted the addition of Wednesday nights to their offerings for this summer in Veteran’s Memorial Park.

Despite provincial liquor regulation changes last April that now allow market vendors to offer local beers, wines, ciders and spirits, however, Langford city councillors decided now isn’t the right time.

The Luxton Station Market Society, which operates the outdoor market, was requesting a bylaw amendment that would have seen them able to incorporate this additional draw to their previously-weekly – now bi-weekly – event.

The reasons cited for turning down the idea were the potential overcrowding of the park and that alcohol sales in an area with war memorials might be considered disrespectful.

If the market’s growth has made the park overcrowded on Saturdays, we feel the city should work with the Market Society to find a venue that will both suit the current event and allow for continued growth. Farmer’s markets are excellent community events that should be cherished, nurtured and supported.

We understand the hesitance to incorporate alcohol sales around war memorials, though. It is possible that veterans – who deserve our utmost respect, admiration and attention – may, in fact, frown upon alcohol sales near the sites designed to memorialize them.

But we think they should be asked before we decide that’s how they feel. The Royal Canadian Legion, after all, while a members’ club and not a place specifically for public reflection of veterans’ sacrifices, is nonetheless a bastion for current and ex-military men and women. On a daily basis, Legions honour veterans and memorialize the sacrifices of soldiers past – much like Veteran’s Memorial Park – yet they have bars built right into them.

The Luxton Market Society’s mandate is to be a community market in the West Shore where all the vendors make, grow, bake or raise the products they sell. Locally-produced beer and other libations fall squarely into that mandate.

It seems the decision not to allow this was based on outdated misconceptions about alcohol, those who distribute it, and those who consume it. It’s time to reconsider and address those misconceptions, look at the benefits other communities’ markets are enjoying by expanding their customer base and check the public’s pulse on the matter.

There’s a chance doing so might just encourage a new sector of our local business community, if that’s what the community wants.

Let’s ask them.