Brian May's famous song, "Too Much Love Will Kill You", was written about the pain that love can create and maybe we are experiencing that at QVM.
Groups who want to have a say on QVM Renewal are many and varied. Our market creates much passion and you would expect that for an Australian icon. Customers, unions, politicians, actors, and academics are just some of the groups getting involved. Love and support is wonderful but how helpful is all that advice and will it be useful as we attempt to prepare QVM for the next 100 years or will it just make it more difficult to achieve a solution?
The public might love our market but the harsh reality is that they are shopping elsewhere. A Shed is partially empty because some customers found better places to buy their fruit and vegetables. Opponents of renewal are saying "leave it alone" but clearly that is not an option.
The Implementation Framework aims to provide a whole list of features that will give the Fruit & Vegetable traders the tools they need to regain their relevance with Melbourne shoppers. Underground facilities will provide ready access to stock (no more forklift trips across the car park). Cool rooms will help them manage the life of their stock better. Rubbish will go underground instead of being in public view and the forklifts that keep all this stock moving will be kept away from the public. Trucks will park closer to stalls and stop clogging up public areas. Customers will be able to park directly adjacent to their shopping destination. The above ground bit will be dedicated to what the customers really want - great product that is displayed attractively, easily accessed, and enables them to focus on their purchase. The rest all happens underground. That all seems to make a lot of sense.
The problem of course is that achieving that underground facility will mean moving traders and creating some trading uncertainty. Outside groups are desperate to protect traders and are prepared to compromise results (including doing nothing) to achieve that. Traders themselves are a little more pragmatic and realise that some short term pain may be necessary for long term gain. The secret will be in how well the transition is managed and how much support QVM gives its traders. Overseas experience shows that temporary markets can be made very attractive and create a big buzz for customers.
Hospitals don't ask their patients to design medical facilities. As much as we love outside groups, it is traders and management who are the right people to make the right decisions for QVM. Complicating the issues and inviting counsel from well meaning but ill informed outsiders is likely just to put more barriers in the way of a real solution. Too much love could kill us.
By Greg Smith