Monday, April 15, 2024
April 15, 2024

Paving complete, Centennial to shine for market’s opening day

Revitalization work on Salt Spring’s busiest park is “pretty much done,” according to Capital Regional District staff, who said fences that have surrounded the project all winter would be down in time for the unofficial start of the tourist season: the first Saturday Market. 

“I’m doing a walk-through next week,” said Salt Spring electoral area manager Dan Ovington, briefing the island’s Local Community Commission Thursday, March 14 on progress of the Centennial Park renovation.

Ovington said park staff were leaving the fencing in place until right before the Saturday Market opening day, mostly to protect newly planted grass from “all of our friendly dogs that aren’t supposed to be in there.” 

Representatives of the new Salt Spring Island Saturday Market Society, now in charge of operations for what might be the island’s largest visitor attraction, came down to do measurements earlier and again last weekend, Ovington said, to sort out placement of vendor stands and tents for the upcoming season.  

Centennial Park would be reopening without new benches and bike racks in place, Ovington said, at least at first.  

“Rather than having the contractor do that, there was quite a bit of cost savings for us to order and install those ourselves,” said Ovington. “That created a bit of a delay, and what we also want to see is how the market is actually set up.” 

Both park staff and vendors noted that there were no benches on the plaza to begin with, Ovington added, so at the last walk-through everyone agreed to see how it shook out on the first weekend before final placement is determined.

The Centennial Park upgrade has been underway since the beginning of November 2023 — right after the Saturday Market officially ended its season Oct. 28 — with crews removing the concrete and brick pavers, improving drainage, landscaping and adding lighting. The rush to beat inclement weather displaced many hoping to use the park during the winter; Salt Spring’s Remembrance Day ceremony plans were largely shifted to Fulford-Ganges Road in front of the park, although park crews were able to move fencing to ensure access to the cenotaph, as well as the sidewalk, washroom and playground, for the event.  

The project launched thanks to a $561,748 grant from Pacific Economic Development Canada, $298,000 of Community Works funding and $100,000 from the Salt Spring Island Parks and Recreation capital reserve fund — and is technically ahead of schedule, having been initially planned for completion by March 31. 

The Saturday Market opens for the 2024 season on Saturday, March 30. 

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