Organizers behind Island Roots Market hoped they’d found a home for the year-round indoor farmers’ market only to run into zoning issues and seismic stability with a building on Milton Street.

Organizers behind Island Roots Market hoped they’d found a home for the year-round indoor farmers’ market only to run into zoning issues and seismic stability with a building on Milton Street.

Farmers’ market needs shelter to set up shop

NANAIMO – Island Roots Market cooperative has dozens of members, but no place to set up shop yet.

The title, if not the lyrics, to the Rolling Stones song Gimme Shelter, could apply to Island Roots Market Co-operataive.

The Nanaimo-based farmers market co-operative was founded in July 2012, has attracted upwards of 160 members and even has a tentative opening date set for spring 2014, but is still looking for a place to set up shop.

The concept is to have a year-round, indoor market for local farmers and artisans.

“We’re again without a home,” said Larry Whaley, market co-founder. “We’ve thought we had a home twice, but it’s looking like neither one is going to work out.”

The first was in the old Medical Arts Building at 350 Albert St.

“That didn’t work because the owners decided they would rather tear it down and build a parking lot,” Whaley said.

Heavy equipment was on site demolishing the building last month.

Hopes have been dashed again, at least temporarily, for moving into another location at the old Sun Glo Lumber building at 540 Milton St. The plan there was to set up the market in what was once a covered lumber warehouse area at the back of the main building, but the city wants seismic upgrades made to the structure before it can be re-designated for retail use.

“At this stage we don’t know how much that might cost or even what needs to be done,” Whaley said.

Tthe spot would be great for a market, he said, if the co-operative can get in there.

“We want the public to be safe, so we’re not annoyed or anything at the city,” Whaley said. “It’s just difficult because it keeps putting on delays and adding costs and at this stage we don’t know what the costs might be and whether it’s affordable or not.”

Paul Manhas, the building’s owner, said he brought in Herold Engineering and architect Ian Niamath to survey the structure.

Manhas said the warehouse was used as a retail space for many years, but it was never officially re-designated as such and consequently there are no records with the city stating it was ever anything other than warehouse space.

“We’re trying to get an estimate what it would cost to comply,” Manhas said.

For the time being, at least, all plans are on hold until the engineering and architectural cost estimates come in.

“If that is something between us – we and the owner – can manage, we will be going there,” Whaley said. “If not, we’ll be in search of another place.”

Whaley said organizers have not pushed hard to increase membership because of uncertainty about where and when the market will open, but once it finds a home he expect membership to increase dramatically.

“So, that’s where it sits,” Whaley said.