A few things have had to change during the two-years it’s taken to get a building permit from the North Cowichan Regional District, but Saltair businessman John Morris’ enthusiasm for his Stocking Creek market project, which will offer affordable commercial strata space for artisans and retailers, hasn’t waned.
“We’re real excited about it,” he said, now that North Cowichan has approved the project.
The concept of a market “heavily focused on pedestrian walking areas” remains the same. The project will include 16 commercial strata spaces on an L-shaped site just south of Byron’s Market, which Morris also owns. The maximum unit size permitted by the NCRD will be 1,200 sq ft.
It’s that small size and the sharing of some facilities that will make the units affordable to businesses, and Morris thinks it will be a unique setting and a draw, not only for Saltair residents, but for people from the Cowichan Valley and beyond.
“A lot of malls focus only on the local area; this should cater to the whole of Vancouver Island,” he said. The project has often been compared to the Coombs Market – a landmark for anyone headed to Port Alberni or Long Beach.
Stocking Creek will have the same kind of draw, Morris predicts. “It’s going to be good for the whole area.”
Initially planned as a collection of modular structures, the project will now be a West Coast design, with ‘a lot of cedar and steel,’ Morris said. As well, the NCRD insisted that the access road through the market be entirely paved (Morris wanted to pave it part way in, then go with a gravel surface).
Despite those changes, he still thinks the project will be appealing price wise. “I’m still able to achieve that affordability,” he said.
Once construction begins, Morris figures the project can be completed in three to six months. Before then, though, he is waiting to finalize commitments to buy the first two lots at the entrance to the project, closest to Chemainus Road.
He said there is interest in those and other lots, but before work can begin, he wants to have commitments on the ‘prime lots.’