Second local vendor happy with proposed bylaw

Two mobile food vendors in Terrace B.C. have opposite opinions on the city’s proposed bylaw which would raise fees and regulate operation.

Beyond Burgers served up food at Brolly Square on National Aboriginal Day

The two mobile food vendors in Terrace have opposite opinions on the city’s proposed bylaw which would raise their licence fees and regulate their operations.

While Mary Martins, owner of The Puckered Pig food truck, told city council in a meeting June 13 she thought the proposed increase to $500 a year was too high, the owners of Beyond Burgers feel the fee is cheap.

“I broke down that fee… and if you were open May to October, for five days a week, it works out to [close to $4 per day]. That’s cheap,” said Rick Williams who owns Beyond Burgers with his wife Michelle.

By contrast, they’ll pay $50 per day to park at the Skeena Mall and sometimes up to $1,000 for events lasting two or three days, he said.

With Terrace being a hub in the north, drawing people from Prince Rupert, the Nass and Smithers, it makes sense for the fees here to be higher than surrounding communities, he added.

Williams said that their intent is offering an option, not taking away business from local restaurants which have larger operating costs.

He says he is fine with mobile vendors being restricted to certain locations, though the suggested spots such as Ferry Island and Fishermen’s Memorial Park could be re-discussed.

He also doesn’t mind having food-serving hours restricted.

“You’re not paying the fees like all these other people are,” he said. “I feel it is right that they should limit the hours, because you are pretty much opening a full time restaurant if you want to sit for longer than that,” he said.

Michelle Williams said the bylaw could even make it easier to work as vendors because having set rules could alleviate the potential animosity between them and restaurant owners.

“It gives us an opportunity to set up in a designated area and not have to worry because somebody is going to be mad or that we are infringing on a restaurant owner’s pay cheque,” she said.

The comments come as city councillors are still deciding what to do with the proposed bylaw.

A June 13 council vote to adopt it failed on a 3-3 tie and council held a committee of the whole meeting this Monday to discuss further options.

Speaking at the June 13 council meeting, Mayor Carol Leclerc, who voted in favour of the bylaw along with councillors James Cordeiro and Michael Prevost, said a considerable amount of work had already gone into developing the proposed fees and regulations.

“We will never make everybody happy,” she said.

Prevost and Cordeiro agreed, saying that they could see staff had done their research and they were comfortable with the result.

Councillor Lynne Christiansen voted against passing it, since she had heard only from the opposing vendor owner, Mary Martins from The Puckered Pig food truck, and wanted to postpone the decision until she could hear from others.

“I didn’t [get to] hear from a lot of the vendors… The fee change was pretty drastic – it’s quite a jump,” said Christiansen.

“It seemed like [vendors] were having a problem with where they were designated to park and the hours they were allowed to operate… I just want to see the cost and the details of them operating downtown looked at again,” she said.

Councillor Brian Downie said he felt there were “two or three sticky points.”

“I thought that the fee increase was too large, for a small two or three person operation… going to $500 from $55 before. That was one reason,” he said.

His second concern was the restricted hours of operation.

“I didn’t think that that was necessary — to restrict the hours to that extent,” Downie said.

Councillor Sean Bujtas, who was the third councillor to vote against the bylaw as it was, said he felt the $500 permit fee for food trucks was a large jump.

“As much as we want to be fair to all businesses we don’t want to push entrepreneurs outside of city limits to do business either,” he said.

Terrace city council discussed the bylaw in more detail on June 27 at a committee of the whole meeting, and has asked the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce for its opinion before it revisits the decision.

The chamber board meets June 30 to formulate a response.