Summer is quickly approaching, and the pedestrian traffic downtown will start to increase.
At the June 9 council meetings, the public expressed concerns over the city’s current mobile vendor policies.
“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 Churchhill said.
Under the current guidelines, street vendors only have to pay a flat rate of $250 per year, Chief Administrative Officer Jim Hendricks explained.
And this leaves business owners like Churchill in a vulnerable place.
“My $2,000 a month (in rent) can not compare to the $250 a year the food trucks pay,” she noted.
Other concerns include the vendors late hours of operation, the proximity of the trucks to competing businesses and the lack of public facilities for patrons in the downtown core.
And Churchill is not the only business owner with these concerns.
Over 30 store owners signed a petition addressing their concerns, a petition that Churchill gave to a city hall employee on April 30.
But council said they had no knowledge of the document. They did however, share Churchill concerns.
“I think she made some great points and I think we need to address that,” Counc. Dan McSkimming said.
“We don’t want to shortcut businesses.”
Other British Columbia cities have truck vendor regulations such as an enforced distance of 50-100 meters from any restaurant, bar or school, daily taxes and an enforced distance of 50 meters from a public restroom, Churchill said.
And she would like to see these kinds of regulations here in Fernie.
“The issues of waste management, noise and loitering need to be addressed with concrete measures that protect residents and business owners,” she said.
As of now council has committed to further discuss the issue, but with the summer season quickly approaching us, Coun. McSkimming and Coun. Randal Macnair said they would like council to look over the current regulations before the mobile vendors arrive.
“(We need to) make sure that anybody else coming forward knows what happening and plays by the rules, Coun. Macnair said.