Sylvan Lake town council has taken the first steps to implementing a mobile vending pilot project beginning this spring, although it’s not yet clear what the project would look like if it goes ahead.
Councillors on Monday gave first reading to a bylaw proposing the 25-week project that would begin in May and run until November. Permits would be issued for a one-week maximum time period for one of six locations along the lakeshore and in the downtown area.
Vendors, as outlined in the bylaw, could sell anything from food, fresh fruit and vegetables, recreational activities and equipment, art and photography, handcrafted goods and flowers and plants. Local vendors would be given preference.
Coun. Matt Prete was in support of the bylaw, and felt the presence of vendors would enhance the town’s atmosphere.
“I’m interested in seeing the program going forward as a pilot program to see what it does,” he said.
Several local restaurant owners who spoke against the proposed bylaw during the open microphone segment of Monday night’s regular meeting, however, indicated their fear of losing business to mobile vendors.
Coun. Jas Payne shared their concerns, and noted he had a particular issue with food trucks.
“I don’t have any issue with art vendors, entertainment, photos, paintings … those have no negative impact on businesses. I still am very uncomfortable with food trucks,” he said. “I don’t like them, and I would very much like to see them removed entirely. They are a threat to the restaurants that are already waiting to capitalize on that six or eight month period.”
Coun. Graham Parsons noted that the Business Recruitment Team that put forth the recommendation for the bylaw did a “really good job” in compiling their information. He said he was interested to find out how the bylaw would play out.
“It’s not just something that came up, it’s put together by community people who are interested in making downtown and Lakeshore Drive a lot better,” he said. “Some components have caused concerns, and we’ve heard concerns, but there’s far more to this document than just that.”
Coun. Megan Chernoff said she’d like to see the bylaw move forward, regardless of whether food trucks are part of it.
“I would hate to see this entire thing go to waste if it’s decided food vendors aren’t feasible,” she said.
A public hearing is set for March 23. Mayor Sean McIntyre said that the non-statutory hearing would be held for the sake of transparency and to allow the opportunity for town residents and business owners to provide input.