A Telkwa mobile food vendor whose location for the 2021 season had been called into question will be back in Flagpole Park this summer; it will cost them more, however.
At its May 11 meeting, Telkwa council voted to designate official locations for seasonal vendors, raise licencing fees and raise rental rates for village properties.
At a previous meeting on April 13, council received a complaint about the Quick Eats location next to the Telkwa Pub by pub owner Lonny Carroll, which prompted a discussion about possibly moving the food truck specifically and about mobile vendor regulations in general.
Council deferred the discussion to the April 27 regular meeting asking staff to come back with more information on the regulations.
At that meeting, Al Zittlau, Quick Eats co-owner with wife Evelyn, countered allegations that his business was negatively affecting the pub, but once again the issue was deferred with council requesting a more detailed report from staff including comparisons with other jurisdictions in the region.
In a report to council May 11, director of finance Rowena Atienza-Paquette broke down the various regulations and fees for Telkwa, Terrace, Smithers, Houston and Vanderhoof.
Prior to dealing with the fees, council passed a recommendation that Flagpole Park, the Telkwa Barbecue Grounds and the Museum Parking lot would be available for rental in 2021 and 2022 to be reviewed in 2023. Atienza-Paquette reported that the two other potential locations for seasonal businesses, Riverside Park and Eddy Park were unavailable due to ongoing construction projects.
Turning to regulations and business licences, both Terrace and Smithers restrict vendors to two consecutive days per week in any one location. Telkwa, Houston and Vanderhoof do not.
Atienza-Paquette noted this is typical of larger versus smaller municipalities as locations are limited in a village the size of Telkwa.
In terms of the minimum distance a mobile vendor may set up from a fixed building competitor, all but Vanderhoof set the limit at 30 metres. Vanderhoof sets it slightly higher at 50 metres.
The finance director also reported Telkwa had the lowest mobile restaurant business licencing fee among the municipalities at $45 (seasonal pro-rated) compared to $500 (Terrace), $250 (Smithers) and $92 (Houston). Vanderhoof’s $37.50 seasonal pro-rated fee is lower than Telkwa’s, but that town also charges for a $300 mobile food vendor permit.
Mayor Brad Layton noted that licence fees had not been raised since 2013 and even at that time, council decided not to go with a staff recommendation to raise them.
Council opted unanimously to keep the same time and distance regulations and raise the licence fee to $180 a year per staff’s recommendation.
Although the new rate goes into effect immediately, the village agreed to forego it for Quick East this year because Zittlau had already paid for their 2021 licence.
Layton argued that in the future a distinction should be made in the regulations between seasonal and mobile vendors, seasonal being in a fixed location for up to six months and mobile being a business that might come in for special events.
Council also voted on an adjustment to the rental fees, which were also set in 2013. The finance director offered two options. The first was to raise the rent based on a two per cent average annual cost of living increase from 2013 to present which would have made the rent at Flagpole Park $234 per month. The second was to raise it based on the village’s updated commercial rate and a building footprint calculation.
Council chose the second option.
Quick Eats will pay $380 this year compared to $200 last year.
Zittlau said he was OK with the new costs, but unhappy with how they came about with no prior notice and at the 11th hour just as they’re getting ready to open for the season and based on allegations from the pub that the village did not investigate.
They are planning to open the week after Victoria Day.