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New operator for Sidney market

Oct 31 2012
The Town of Sidney has hired Laurie McDermid to run the popular Sidney summer market. 

The Town of Sidney has hired Laurie McDermid to run the popular Sidney summer market.

Photograph by: Times Colonist , .

A former co-ordinator of the Sidney summer market has been named its new operator after the previous manager and the town battled over who should run the popular event.

Laurie McDermid’s new job starts January 1.

“I’m delighted,” McDermid said Tuesday. “The market has been a part of my life the whole time it has been in existence.”

She is taking over after the town of Sidney gave the market’s former operator — the Sidney Business Association — six months notice this summer to terminate its business licence.

The town and the association went head-to-head this year. Sidney voted in April to pull the association’s business licence, but backed away from that decision in May. The association warned the town could be breaching its contract without longer notice.

As a result, the association ran the market this past year. The market is a regional destination, attracting thousands to Beacon Avenue on Thursday evenings between June and September. The business association had headed up the market since it was founded in 2000.

The town said it was concerned with the association’s financial performance and questioned its organizational ability. The association rebuffed those claims and said the town charged exorbitant rates to use Beacon Avenue. Merchants also complained that the market limited access to their stores.

In August, the town published a request for proposals to operate the market in 2013 under a one-year agreement. Along with McDermid, who runs Westcoast Impressions Event Planning, the association submitted a bid, as did the Just Love Animals Society and the Island’s Destination & Event Service.

Mayor Larry Cross said all applicants had merit.

The town went to a request for proposals “to ensure the long-term sustainability of this valued community event.”

“Based on Ms. McDermid’s proposal and past success in operating similar events, we are confident that she will run a successful market and will manage the market in such a fashion,” Cross said.

McDermid has a “broad background” in co-ordinating projects, planning events, promoting business services and ensuring a high level of customer service,Cross said. Her previous experience includes working with the chamber of commerce, Pacific Rim Tourism, Vancouver Island Tourism and the Sidney Business Association.

McDermid said she co-ordinated the market for the Sidney Business Association between 2004 and 2009. With husband Bill, she operated the donut concession at the Sidney market and at others in the region. They recently sold that concession.

McDermid has retail experience in Sidney as the operator of the Westcoast Impressions Gallery and says she has a good relationship with merchants. She anticipates meeting with the municipality, retailers and market vendors. One goal is to see a higher percentage of locally made arts and crafts, rather than imports.

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