The city was looking at making a few areas of downtown available for food trucks this summer, but because the proposed consultation would push back the number of weeks of possible operation, staff thought buy-in from truck operators would likely be low. Photo by Crispin Semmens/used under common license

Proposed Food Truck Pilot Project for downtown Campbell River delayed until spring 2019

Consultation timeline and shorter window for trucks to operate made program unfeasible for 2018

Downtown Campbell River won’t see more food trucks setting up downtown this summer after all.

The city has decided to give more time to staff for consultation for the proposed pilot project that would open up some areas of the downtown core to food trucks, now proposing for it to begin in the spring of 2019. The pilot was initially to be implemented for this summer, but council decided at the May 28 public meeting to consult with downtown businesses who may be impacted by such a program before its launch. At that meeting staff were tasked with engaging in a three-week consultation period with the public and coming back with recommendations at the June 25 meeting.

At this Monday’s meeting however, council received a staff report recommending that the timeline now be changed altogether, pushing the program back to next spring to allow for a more thorough consulation period.

The implementation of the program for this summer, the report says, should council need to wait until the end of June to receive public feedback on the plan, would make the recruitment of interested food trucks difficult while also as limiting the scope of the consultation process due to time constraints.

“If council continues to proceed with the program following the June 25, 2018 council meeting,” the report says, “recruitment of food trucks would result in the program likely launching in late July or early August depending on the availability and interest of mobile vendors. The city may find that the program duration is not sufficient enough to attract program participants.”

Although many councilors were obviously disappointed with the prospect of not launching the pilot project this year, the consensus was that a longer consultation process was for the best.

“I think we heard loud and clear at the last council meeting and as well from the community that there was a concern, but there was also excitement and an appetite – no pun intended – to see this come to fruition,” Mayor Andy Adams says. “But we also want to make sure it’s done in a full, consultative, engaging way.”

“Excitement” would seem to be an understatement, based on the initial public response to the idea. The Mirror Facebook post about the prospect of such a pilot garnered well over 100 written responses, almost all of which were in favour of more food trucks setting up in town. In fact, the public response to the Mirror’s post was cited in the subsequent staff report itself.

“As of June 4, 2018 in response to the Campbell River Mirror article on the proposed program, 103 public comments were posted on Facebook, with only three comments expessing concerns about the program,” the report reads. “Any written correspondence received on the program will be summarized for council in a future council report along with feedback from the overall consultation process.”

The next steps in that consultation process, according to the report – the reccomendations from which were accepted by council this week – involve meeting with the downtown BIA and Pier Street Association, the Chamber of Commerce, door-to-door canvassing and surveying of the business owners downtown and the launch of a public survey.

Alongside this consultation process, staff will also be recruiting food truck participation at various specific downtown events this summer, such as CR Live Streets, which is set to begin July 18.

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