An innovative accessible vendor market is in the planning to be located in Prince Rupert with Indigenous tourism funding backing the project, Amber Harding of Northern BC Tourism said, in late June.
More than $1.7 million has been provided to Prince Rupert Indigenous tourism as part of a $28 million package to provide COVID-19 recovery support from the pandemic, announced the Ministry of Tourism, Arts Culture, and Sport on June 24 in a media statement.
Indigenous tourism businesses in B.C. have received more than $28 million for 60 projects to support recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Indigenous tourism is one of the fastest-growing segments in B.C. tourism because it provides opportunities to share Indigenous cultures and experience communities in a new way,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport. “This funding demonstrates reconciliation in action by creating and expanding tourism economic development projects with Indigenous Nations and supporting self-determination for Indigenous businesses.”
Tourism Prince Rupert has received $110,000 from the Regional Tourism Development Initiatives funding stream, for the future project which encompasses a barrier-free market situation that will be positioned at the city’s waterfront.
“The funds will be used to purchase and redevelop shipping containers into unique independent stores,” Harding said. “It’s a really cool project.”
Funds will assist with the cost of electrical work, connectivity, access ramps with a proposed completion date of March 2023. Most of the work will progress during 2022 to meet the funding parameters.
Harding said the idea behind the unique vendor project is to tap into the cruise ship market with its visitors to Prince Rupert who can not access First Nations products for purchase from outside of Prince Rupert.
The goal of this market is to present an opportunity to extend the economic benefits of the cruise visitors across the region, Harding said.
“Often when cruise ships come in, they’re not here long enough for the visitors to really explore outside of the community of Prince Rupert.”
“There will be a focus on Indigenous and non-Indigenous artisans from across the Northwest to participate in the market,” she said and this will give the vendors an opportunity to engage with tourists they may not usually interact with.
The shipping containers will be specifically constructed to meet universal accessibility standards to allow for every level of mobility and inclusivity. The idea was the brainchild of Tourism Prince Rupert and Prince Rupert Port Authority, Harding said.
She said the project has been considered for a while and because the funding was a little more flexible they were able to use the opportunity to fund the project.
“This funding stream is a really unique funding stream that was specifically for creating more visitor experiences and products in Northern B.C.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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