Fighting Fernie mobile street vendor bylaw

Council is readdressing concerns over mobile street vendors, after the issue was first brought up during council meetings last summer.

Council is readdressing concerns over mobile street vendors, after the issue was first brought to life during several council meetings last summer.

During the June 22 council meeting, Loaf Bakery owner Phil Gadd said that he was unhappy with how a City of Fernie bylaw officer handled a recent complaint.

He noted that during the previous week, he sent an email to the bylaw officer requesting the enforcement of Bylaw No. 2028.

In the Mobile or Street Vending sections of the bylaw, Section 11 (3), the bylaw reads, “Council may establish by resolution areas within the Municipality in which licensed Mobile or Street vendors are prohibited from operating.”

Gadd noted that he was upset with a mobile street vendor operating less than 10 metres away from his business.

“I found the bylaw officer’s response unprofessional and I felt a poor reflection on the way the city’s currently dealing with this issue,” Gadd said. “I, along with other concerned business owners from 2nd Avenue, brought up this issue to city council’s attention over 12 months ago and, in my opinion, nothing has changed.”

Last year, council suggested establishing a designated area in which mobile street vendors could operate, however, finding a place where the vendors did not compete with local businesses proved to be a challenge.

A task force to look into the issue was set up in November 2014, but as of now, the current bylaw remains ambiguous.

“The lack of strong, clear guidelines currently in this bylaw is having a direct negative impact on my business,” Gadd said.

Coun. Phill Iddon agreed, stating, “There’s no real guidance, nothing concrete is written in them.”

Gadd then suggested council look into Castlegar’s common sense policy, in which the distance a mobile street vendor can operate outside a competing business is specified.

Council said that one of the main reasons the bylaw has not been amended is because they are currently short-staffed.

“When it comes to bylaw enforcement, while it may seem easy on the outside, it’s actually quite complicated to distribute resources,” Coun. Jon Levesque said.

“We’ve been short-staffed for a person to help us with bylaws and that’s one of the reasons why things have moved slower,” Mayor Mary Giuliano added.

Council said that they would be discussing the issue again during the next committee of the whole meeting, to be held on 10 a.m. on July 13.

Gadd was invited to present his findings to council during that time.