The city is looking at making a few areas of downtown available for food trucks this summer, but first they want to consult with the restaurants already down there to hear their concerns. Photo by Crispin Semmens/used under common license

City of Campbell River looks to launch food truck pilot project this summer

Staff will return to council June 25 with feedback from downtown businesses who could be affected

At Monday’s public meeting this week, city council was all set to launch a pilot program that would see up to four food trucks operating downtown this summer.

The pilot program was to be launched this July, allowing between two and four food trucks to operate within designated areas of downtown for a period of eight weeks under a temporary permit, with an option to continue the pilot through September. Currently, mobile vendors of any kind can’t stay in one place on public property for more than 15 minutes without a special permit, such as those issued for events such as Canada Day or the Salmon Festival.

But although their plan was to approve only operators whose offerings would not directly compete with the brick-and-mortar restaurants in the downtown core, Coun. Ron Kerr says he went around to speak with those businesses earlier that day and was met with significant concern.

“There are 14 restaurants in the downtown core, and today I went out and canvassed a number of them,” Kerr said. “I was really surprised that of the ones that I spoke to, none of them had been approached by staff. They didn’t even understand that this was coming.

“I want to say right up front that I’m not anti-food-truck,” Kerr continued, “but I believe in supporting our local downtown restaurants and I’m concerned that this program is going to affect them negatively. Their concern is that they are going to lose restaurants – that there will be restaurants that won’t make it.”

One of the business owners’ main concerns, Kerr says, was about an uneven playing field.

“The owners of these restaurants have to pay property taxes, they have to pay rent, they have to pay rent increases, they’ve got wages going up for their employees, they have fuel subsidies on their deliveries. All of these things are affecting the existing businesses that don’t affect the food trucks,” Kerr said.

Although Coun. Colleen Evans agreed that official consultation should take place with downtown business before the implementation, she wanted to go ahead and approve the project and see it happen this summer, with their concerns taken into consideration. Another review would then happen after the completion of the pilot to gather feedback and make adjustments before deciding whether or not to continue the program.

She also said while she understands the fears of the current restaurants, she feels that additional food options downtown could actually increase the amount of business the they all receive in the long run.

“This is to activate and create new opportunities to add choice,” Evans said. “Often times what happens in communities when a food truck program is implemented, it in fact increases business in downtown restaurants,” she says, by driving more people to the downtown core to look for dining opportunities because there are more of them present.

Coun. Michele Babchuk agreed that it should move forward.

“I feel like we’re stuck between, ‘build it and they will come,’ or, ‘if you come, we will build it,’ sort of a model. This is a four-month pilot project that I’m hoping will enhance our Live Streets events and our Thursday night music in Spirit Square and will enhance our daylight saving hours and bring people downtown. If we don’t at least give it a try for one year, I’m not sure we’ll ever know. I’m not sure we’d be doing justice to the whole community if we didn’t at least give this a shot for a year.”

But Kerr wasn’t convinced.

“I feel this has been poorly conceived,” Kerr says. “I feel the intent is good, but the roll-out concerns me.”

Coun. Charlie Cornfield agreed, saying, “it’s incumbent upon us to talk to the people most potentially impacted by this and find out their views first before we implement it.”

In the end, the majority of council also agreed and it was decided that the downtown restaurant sector would be consulted and have their feedback and concerns brought back to council at the June 25 meeting for final consideration before implementation.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Bear spies on cyclists riding by on Campbell River street

Riders seem unaware the bruin is mere feet away on the side of the road

Campbell River man arrested, charged with property crime and drug offences

A Campbell River man was arrested Oct. 10 and remains in custody… Continue reading

Island Health project targets hepatitis C in northern Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island has one of the highest rates of hepatitis C infection in Canada

2019 FEDERAL ELECTION: North Island-Powell River candidates address other issues of importance

“Other than the topics already discussed, what is the most important issue in your constituency?”

B.C.’s rural paramedic program expands, with home support

Advanced care ambulance staff added for six communities

VIDEO: #MeToo leader launches new hashtag to mobilize U.S. voters

Tarana Burke hopes to prompt moderators to ask about sexual violence at next debate

B.C. massage therapist reprimanded, fined for exposing patients’ breasts

Registered massage therapist admits professional misconduct

B.C. boosts legal aid funding in new payment contract

‘Duty counsel’ service restored in some communities, David Eby says

Rugby Canada helps recovery efforts in Japan after typhoon cancels final match

Canadian players wanted to “give back in whatever small way they could”

Two Cowichan Tribes families devastated by duplex fire

Carla Sylvester sat in her vehicle, on Tuesday morning, with tears in… Continue reading

Cheating husband sues mistress for gifted ring after wife learns about affair

The husband gave his mistress $1,000 to buy herself a ring in December 2017

British couple vacationing in Vancouver detained in US after ‘accidentally’ crossing border

Parents travelling with three-month-old reportedly being held in Pennsylvania

After losing two baby boys, B.C. parents hope to cut through the taboo of infant death

Oct. 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in B.C.

Alberta to join B.C.’s class-action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, distributors

B.C. government claims opioids were falsely marketed as less addictive than other pain meds

Most Read