Canberra’s award-winning Old Bus Depot Markets in Kingston won’t be reopening until 16 February as crews work urgently to repair the damage wrought by last month’s catastrophic hail storm.
The markets haven’t been able to trade since the 20 January storm, which destroyed 220 skylights in the heritage-listed former transport depot and exposed the lower levels to extensive water damage.
An awning and Old Bus Depot sign on the front of the building also sustained significant damage but the eventual repair bill remains unknown at this stage.
A spokesperson said the clean-up and repairs were going well, with access to the markets’ administration office reinstated and rectification works scheduled to be complete by Monday.
But access to the remainder of the building, including the food court, remained restricted due to significant safety risks.
Glass was still being collected and the clean-up had been complicated by the roof heights and total weight of glass involved, the spokesperson said.
“Luckily the building was assessed and works undertaken to rectify the damage within days of the storm,” the spokesperson said.
“Unfortunately we haven’t been notified of the total cost involved as it was deemed more important to get the building repaired and the markets back in operation. Many small regional businesses rely on Old Bus Depot Markets to trade.”
But the repairs are only temporary as the roof on the lower level will be replaced in the not too distant future and any heritage issues will be addressed then.
The spokesperson said Plexiglass or perspex had been used to replace the broken glass in case there happens to be another freak hail storm.
With three consecutive weekends of trading lost, the impact on stallholders had been significant but the economic loss was hard to quantify.
“Unfortunately this has had impact of varying degrees for many of our stallholders,” the spokesperson said.
“Some were only just being able to return to the markets after being affected by the summer bushfires and other stallholders depend on our markets as their only source of income. It’s safe to say that the majority of stallholders are eagerly awaiting the reopening of the markets.”
A major tourist attraction, the markets have a reach beyond the region with customers as far as Tamworth, Mildura and Ballarat contacting management about the closure.
“The best way for people to support these stallholders is to come back to the markets as soon as possible. Shop local, dig deep and support these businesses who have had a very rough start to 2020,” the spokesperson said.
Customers and stallholders are advised to stay up to date with the situation via the markets’ website www.obdm.com.au, Facebook and Instagram.