Oamaru artist Donna Demente believes the Oamaru Farmers’ Market should be relocated to Harbour St, which she believes is the perfect location for it to flourish.

The farmers’ market has operated out of the car park on the corner of Tyne and Wansbeck Sts, next to Scotts Brewing Co, since September 2011 and draws large numbers of people every Sunday.

At its peak, there are up to 30 stallholders at the market each week.

However, Ms Demente believed Harbour St would be a more appropriate location for the market, as it was the ideal backdrop and had the right ambience, and would allow car parking space to be “liberated” for both visitors and locals so they could shop at the market or wander the Victorian Precinct and harbour area.

She said some Harbour St businesses missed out on potential custom on Sundays, as many people preferred to stay around the harbour area and not venture into the precinct itself.

“Three of the Oamaru Whitestone Civic Trust trustees also stand on the market committee. Tenants of Harbour and Tyne Sts need more foot traffic to alleviate the one-stop-shop market, brewery, playground and car park which means less people venture into the precinct than used to.”

She said it would also enable “refreshing marketing opportunities”.

Ms Demente distributed surveys on the idea to 30 tenants in the Victorian Precinct, and 26 of those were returned.

She said she received “absolutely unanimous” positive support.

“My belief is that more hustle and bustle in the street will assist with even the image of the street, and there is the obvious spin-off to retailers by the passage of foot traffic.

“I think it also has a wider sociological relevance and responsibility – that of re-establishing the sense of community that once pervaded the historic precinct on weekends.”

Oamaru Farmers’ Market co-ordinator David McFarlane was open to discussing the idea further with interested parties.

“There’s merit to the idea, although there are many factors at play with the various stakeholders involved. I commend the precinct businesses for their enthusiastic work to bring more vibrancy to Harbour St, so that visitors are encouraged to stay in the area longer.

“The market committee looks forward to sitting down with stakeholders and seeing what works for everybody.”

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher believed the idea had its “pros and cons”.

“Fundamentally, it’s down to what the farmers’ market want to do,” Mr Kircher said.

“We are looking at improving that corner of the land with the urban park proposal. That can happen whether or not they remain there.

“But, equally, we see her [Ms Demente’s] points of wanting to spread that activity more through the precinct, particularly if the trial for permanent closure of Harbour St proves successful.”

The urban park proposal is one of 18 new projects under discussion in this year’s annual plan process for the Waitaki district.

In the preliminary 2017-18 annual plan proposal from the Waitaki District Council, $215,000 has been allocated for harbour development, including an urban park at the farmers’ market site.

On February 23, Mr Kircher told the Otago Daily Times the park would not compromise the amount of parking, but would contain both “hard landscaping” and “soft landscaping” and would complement the area’s already established identity.

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