Decision reached on mobile restaurants

  • Jun. 1, 2011 11:00 a.m.

After a lengthy discussion, Smithers council has finally laid the issue of mobile vendors operating on Main Street to rest.

Since October of last year, council has been considering mobile vendors and restaurants, Councillor Charlie Northrup said, but the issue really came to a head in mid-April.

Mika and Nick Meyer, owners of Bugwood Bean, had already been issued a business licence, they told council, yet the proposed changes that wouldn’t allow them on Main Street that would negatively affect their business. Considering that they had already paid for their business licence, they said, the decision to change the distance that they can operate from 30 metres to 60 metres from an established business of a similar restaurant was not fair.

After months of discussion, council agreed.

“It is free enterprise and you do need to have competition,” Mayor Cress Farrow said. “What we’ve done is sold a business licence in good faith … then changed it after. I don’t think that’s sending the right message to those who want to set up a business in town.”

It would be nice, Councillor Mark Bandstra said, to come up with a compromise in this instance.

Their decision was to alter the business bylaw to back to the original 30 metre distance requirements from an establishment that sells a similar product, effectively allowing mobile vendors to operate on Main Street.

However, they would only be allowed to operate there for two consecutive days at one location and the fee increase to $250 remains.

For existing mobile vendors, including Bugwood Bean, council added a clause excluding them from the two-consecutive day requirement until their one-year business licence expires on Dec. 31.

For 2012, they would be required to fulfill the new requirements made by council last Tuesday.

“I think we reached a very good compromise,” Farrow said. “That still gives them a good opportunity to do business in town.”

The Meyers, who were at the meeting, agreed as well, and were happy that this decision was made.

Business, Nick said, has been going very well for them so far. They’ve enjoyed their current location and are glad that they’ll be able to continue working at their spot on Second Avenue.

But whether they’ll reapply for a business licence next year under the two consecutive day clause is still a decision they’ll be debating, Nick said.

“We’re going to take one thing at a time,” Nick Meyer said.

The public support, Mika said, has been unbelievable. Without it, she doubts they’d have remained as strong as they were in advocating their business and its place on Main Street.

“It just really shows how much we have help, it was unbelievable how great our community is and just how much they support us, and not only just us, but the bigger picture, a small business starting up in Smithers,” Mika said. “Thank you.”