Sylvan Lake town council on Monday night approved a 25-week mobile vending pilot project beginning this spring, but not before tweaking it to their liking.
The number of sites proposed for the project was reduced from six to five, after a location at the corner of 50 Street and Lakeshore Drive was removed from the bylaw.
Further changes saw food truck and food cart weekly fees raised to $1,000 and $300, respectively, and preference given to local vendors and vendors whose services offered aren’t in direct competition with area businesses.
An amendment put forth by Mayor Sean McIntyre to see food trucks removed from a Centennial Park location was also carried.
Other proposed amendments – such as Coun. Jas Payne’s suggestion that food trucks be removed from the bylaw entirely, and Coun. Matt Prete’s attempt to raise weekly food truck fees to $2,000 – were defeated.
“I think that’s a fair number,” said Prete. “If they’re a serious business, they should be willing to pay the price, and if they come in and lose money, they won’t come back.”
People outnumbered seats for the public hearing preceding council’s discussion on the matter, with more than two dozen concerned residents, business owners and stakeholders voicing their opinions throughout the hearing process.
While order was maintained for the most part – in accordance with Mayor McIntyre’s request at the start of the meeting – the frustration of some business owners was clear.
Sheree Davies, who owns Bayview CafŽ in downtown Sylvan Lake, said she felt the bylaw pitted local business owners against proponents of the arts, who would benefit from mobile vending.
She and other local business owners, she said, have long advocated for the presence of such talents in the downtown area, and she felt food trucks should be addressed separately.
“These vendors should not be in the same bylaw as food trucks,” she said.
Kjeryn Davis, owner of Bukwildz on Lakeshore Drive, referred to the pilot project as a “dangerous game of roulette.”
“Listen to us when we say this is wrong,” she said. “We already have a time and place for this, and it’s every Friday night at the farmers market.”
Mayor Sean McIntyre reiterated that the project will go ahead as “a pilot project, and not a wholesale change.”
“We are doing everything we can to rejuvenate the downtown area, and what we’ve heard tonight is a difference in opinion in how to achieve that,” he said. “We have a pilot project that is 25 weeks long that has a beginning date and an end date to see if (mobile vendors) will have a positive effect on the downtown area.”
Coun. Graham Parsons praised town residents and business owners both for and against the bylaw for their participation in discussing the matter.
“Thank you for some really good dialogue,” he said.
Vendors may sell food, recreational activities, art, photography, handcrafted goods and plants through the pilot project, which begins the week of May 12 and runs until the end of October.