Langley night market moves from conceptual to reality overnight

Potential organizer sees night market unveiling as ‘premature’, but now a likelihood.

There has been some talk, only at the conceptual stage, about hosting a night market in downtown Langley City.

But since the organization of such an event would most likely fall to Teri James and her team with the Downtown Langley Business Association (DLBA), she and the City mayor both called any announcement that it’s going ahead as “premature.”

James is particularly keen about the idea, but said it would take months to plan and insisted – at this stage – it is only that, little more than an “idea.”

City of Langley would partner with the DLBA to pull together something like this, James said. But, with eight events already on the books downtown this summer, she explained that she doesn’t have the time or resources to make such an endeavour a reality in 2017.

The idea was tossed out a few months ago, among several strategic ideas by City council and staff, to further energize the core and draw more people downtown, explained Mayor Ted Schaffer.

It’s just one of several concepts discussed during a brainstorming session, he elaborated, noting parklets, increased summer seating, laneway games and activities, and lunch-time events were also discussed.

This is just one of the strategic ideas that has “taken off from there,” Schaffer said.

“It’s a year early. It’s premature. It will take a lot of time and effort and some money to make it work” and be sustainable, he added.

“To have a quality event of this magnitude, it takes months to plan, not weeks,” James said.

While she’s always been in favour of the concept, she said attention in the past few days has definitely propelled discussions.

In fact, in the past 24-plus hours, there’s been quite a bit more talk and conceptualizing.

For instance, the hope would be to host the event in McBurney Plaza, with an expectation of accommodating about 25 to 30 vendors and some 300 guests.

“To do it right, it has to be planned well in advance,” she said, anticipating that the DLBA could look at coordinating three markets next summer.

It will take that long, she said, to secure quality, reputable vendors and food suppliers and work out all the other logistical issues involved in making it happen.

Three is “all that we can conceivably manage” right now, she said, putting out an invitation for volunteers willing and capable of helping plan such a public event.

“And, if anyone has some great ideas, I’m all ears,” James added, anxious to see it as more than just a public market with out-of-town vendors and food trucks.

“If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it right, and we want to make it a bigger event than just a night market,” she elaborated.

She would also be anxious to see local downtown businesses involved, directly and indirectly, with such an event – whether that means a physical presence in the plaza or a coordinated effort to have retailers stay open for longer hours market days.

“I would like to see it happen. I think night markets are cool,” James said.

“I think they bring a lot of exposure to the community… There’s something about shopping at night that intrigues people… and it’s another reason for people to come downtown.”

Schaffer is also pretty excited about the idea, saying he likes any ideas that bring activities to the downtown core.

He has repeatedly been told people want more to do in Langley City – activities that don’t necessarily cost a lot of money. The night market would fit in well, he said.

With the population growth currently being experienced – as well as what’s forecast in the next few years – he said the City would be remiss if it didn’t look at more ways to engage its residents at all times of the day.

“We have to look at how do we make the City more vibrant and alive…that’s what people are looking for.”

Following further discussions with the mayor and staff following this week’s “premature” announcement, James said all parties have since committed to making it happen – but not until next year, she re-emphasized.

“I can say now… we’ll definitely be having a series of night markets in 2018,” James told the Langley Advance.

But stay tuned for exactly what that’s going to look like, she concluded.

In the meantime, as per the brainstorming discussions with the City, and the desire to do more to engage residents, the DLBA is already planning a new evening event this September.

It’s not a market of any kind, James clarified. But the plaza will be fenced off for a free-admission adult-only event featuring food trucks, live entertainment, and alcohol. It will be held Sept. 9, from 6 to 10 p.m. More details to come.