After public backlash against council’s recent decision to limit mobile street vendors access to First Ave. between Fifth and Sixth St., council has proposed a new location for food trucks—the east side of Second Ave. between Seventh and Ninth St.
The policy has yet to be adopted but the city agreed that they needed to amend their initial decision and give the public a chance to weight in on the new proposed location.
“I really don’t like the solution we came up with at our last meeting,” Coun. Phil Iddon said.
“We want as many people to accumulate downtown as possible.”
The initial decision to move the food trucks to First Ave. between Fifth and Sixth St. was made after downtown restaurant owners raised concern over the proximity of the trucks to competing business.
“Downtown restaurant owners and residents believe food trucks have a place in Fernie, but not in our downtown and particularly not with the existing lack of guidelines,” restaurant owner Marsha Churchill said during the June 9 council meeting.
Churchill also expressed concerns over waste managements, public intoxication and the lack of public facilities for patrons in the downtown core.
But during the July 14 council meeting, several Fernie residents spoke out against Churchill’s remarks.
“I don’t think that the vendors can be blamed for all the drunkenness, the vandalism, the public urination, the garbage left all over town,” Helen Hutchinson said.
“The problems with the vandalism and the garbage are people problems.”
Several locals also spoke out against council’s decision to restrict the mobile street vendors hours of operation to a 2 a.m. close.
“I think it’s a sad state when the city of Fernie is trying to, in any way, stop a young vendor, any vendor, any business from revenue. They pay taxes, they put food in their children’s mouths and in no way should we try to take steps backward just to appease businesses that don’t want them downtown,” Val d’Isere said.
“Anybody whose ever proposed a business plan, if you are truly worried about your business being impacted by a food vendor truck, I think you’ve got a poor business plan to start with.”
Debra Wilson added, “Under the free enterprise capitalist system no other entrepreneur or business has the right to interfere, opposes, harass or complain about someone in business who is competing fairly.”
But with the new proposed location, Iddon said the city could establish the separation of food trucks from Second Ave. restaurants without forcing the trucks off the main street.
The city also revisited their decision to limit the food truck’s hours of operation to a 2 a.m. closing time and decided to extend their hours to a 3 a.m. close, giving the vendors till 3:30 a.m. to clean-up.
Before the policy is put in place, council said they would like some feedback from businesses in that area.
“I think it’s really important that Overwaitea hear about this,” Coun. Dan McSkimming said.
“I don’t want to just make a decision right now that will hamper somebody’s ability to make an income,” Mayor Mary Guiliano added.