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Twilight market shut down

Whistler says outdoors artisan market conflicts with bylaws



One month after a group of local artisans started holding weekly markets on the Westin Resort's outdoor plaza, the municipality's bylaw department has shut down the Twilight Artisan Market.

Market organizer Tess Klein said she first learned the five-week-old market was breaching bylaws when she got a call from the municipality on Thursday, Aug. 6, the day before her scheduled Friday market.

Klein was told that because her market was in public view, it contravened the municipality's bylaws, even though it is held on private property. As a result, each vendor could be fined up to $250, with a maximum penalty of $2,000 each if the dispute went to court.

"Both the Westin and I were shocked when we got the call," said Klein, who started the market on July 3 and is a long-time local jewelry maker. "We thought because it was on private property, we weren't doing something against the bylaws."

Klein decided to move the market indoors last week, and six of her regular vendors attended. Up until now, the market has had an average of 10 vendors.

This week, though, Klein has decided to scrap the market completely if she can't hold it outdoors.

"It (an indoors festival) is not really what the hotel or I want," said Klein. "It is the summertime, and we want to be outside. We want to create animation in that part of town and create an experience for both tourists and locals."

In order to continue holding the artisan market outside, Klein would have to get council approval.

Michele Comeau from the municipality said the only other comparable example of a market like the Twilight Market is the Sunday Farmer's Market, through the Blackcomb Merchants Association, which received a special approval from council in 1993.

Temporary outdoor markets, like those at Crankworx and the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival, also receive special approval, said Comeau.

"In terms of the process for something like this, a market would need to go through a process and come before council for approval, and this kind of use is not permitted without council approval," said Comeau.

"Similar to the Farmer's Market, which went through an extensive process before council, a similar process would have to be conducted for the market.... The policies are very strict."

To bring attention to the issue, Klein plans to write a letter to mayor and council. She has also started a petition that people can sign at her booth outside Portobello restaurant at the Farmer's Market in the upper village on Sundays.