Amanda Vance, executive director of the DDBIA, stands in front of Station Street Common at the opening of the food court last summer. (File photo)

Amanda Vance, executive director of the DDBIA, stands in front of Station Street Common at the opening of the food court last summer. (File photo)

Open food court may return to downtown Duncan next summer

DDBIA in discussions with City of Duncan

The Downtown Duncan BIA is looking to recreate a project like the food court concept that it successfully provided in Station Street Common this summer next year, but in a different format.

In a report to the City of Duncan, the DDBIA said it is working with city staff on a proposal that would see concrete picnic tables and other changes to improve upon the original project that would begin in the spring of 2021.

“One of the challenges the DDBIA met while running the Common was finding the limits of our capacity,” the report said.

“Merchants and members of the public asked us to run the Common every day including Sunday. We would have loved to provide daily service to the community, but the project with its existing hours in its existing framework, had already maxed out our capacity. Many merchants and patrons have asked if we would run the Common again next year.”

RELATED STORY: DOWNTOWN DUNCAN OPEN-AIR FOOD COURT OPENS

The open-air food court was established in downtown Duncan during the summer months to assist local restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic, mainly to address restrictions on customer numbers in restaurants brought on by the health crisis.

The DDBIA opened the Station Street Common on July 7 in Station Park, with help from funding from the City of Duncan and the Island Coastal Economic Trust, and it was in operation until Sept. 7.

More than 25 eateries in the downtown core took advantage of the outdoor eating venue, which featured an innovative online ordering option.

The Common brought people downtown and played a role in enlivening the core after the COVID-19 crisis shut down non-essential services in the area.

It also provided seasonal employment to four people.

But whether the food court, in some form, will be back next year in Station Street Common is still up in the air as the City of Duncan has yet to decide the future of the site.

The city undertook a public “placemaking” project for the park earlier this year with Mark Lakeman and his Portland-based design firm Communitecture to determine the future of the site, which is where the old Red Balloon store used to stand.

RELATED STORY: SUGGESTED DESIGNS REVEALED FOR DUNCAN’S STATION STREET PARK, WHISTLER STREET

Communitecture’s design for the site recommends a variety of seating spaces and gathering areas that would be arranged around a spacious round lawn.

Covered tables to the south and east would provide space for meals and conversations in most seasons, and food trucks parked on Station Street and public washrooms in the alley to the north would provide additional amenities.

Duncan’s council decided in October to apply to the province’s Community Economic Recovery Infrastructure Program for up to $1 million to cover the cost of the plan for the site.

RELATED STORY: CITY OF DUNCAN CONSIDERS APPLYING FOR GRANT FOR STATION STREET PROJECT



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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