The Smithers District Chamber of Commerce’s ice cream trailer will be rolling back into Central Park once again but with a twist this summer.
The chamber has operated The Frozen North student-led business program that allows youth to operate a mobile ice cream trailer for the summer since 2015. However, this year, the trailer is partnering with the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako and turning it into a ‘Farm to Fork’ concession. The mobile vendor will be featuring the products of chamber members, producers and growers from across the region.
At the June 14 regular meeting of council, councillors gave the chamber permission to keep their trailer in one spot. According to local bylaws, a mobile food vendor can’t be set up for longer than two consecutive days per week in one spot.
However, this trailer will be operated by youth who don’t have access to a vehicle to tow it around every two days.
While council ended up agreeing to let the trailer stay at Central Park for the majority of the summer, it wasn’t a unanimous decision. Councillors Frank Wray and John Buikema opposed.
“Councillor Wray brought up a point where he said ‘if we approve this, we are allowing a business to set up for free on town-owned property and be in competition with other businesses in town who have to pay property tax’,” Buikema told The Interior News. “In other words, Coun. Wray believed we were giving a business an unfair advantage. I found that argument compelling, and that’s why I voted in opposition.”
On the other hand, Councillor Mika Meyer said she felt comfortable supporting the request.
“I supported this request as this is a youth entrepreneur business program and there was challenges with access to a vehicle for youth who will be operating the concession,” she said. “I feel it is important to support our youth in our community and even though this specific request requires a variance on the current bylaw, I wanted to allow an opportunity for the youth to operate the business. Also the request was for 3 months only and I felt this was a good way for the business, youth, chamber and the RD to test out if this is a viable business for future seasons.”
In a letter to council, Chamber executive director Sheena Miller wrote they will obtain a business license and pay the fee for the three seasonal months; enter into a licence of occupation agreement with the Town; provide proof of Northern Health’s approval and workers’ compensation coverage as well as ICBC liability insurance for the mobile unit.