Food vendor pilot project to run in Williams Lake

People wanting to set up mobile food vending in the city’s downtown have until July 12 to throw their name into the hat.

People wanting to set up mobile food vending in the city’s downtown have until July 12 to throw their name into the hat to be part of a pilot project that will run mid July until the end of October.

The city is proposing four areas that mobile vendors can operate. They include Spirit Square, Kiwanis Park, Boitanio Park and Herb Gardner Park.

Council passed a recommendation for the project at its Tuesday council meeting.

“This is something that’s up and coming in so many different municipalities and fits into our vision for the downtown and adds to a lively downtown,” said Mayor Kerry Cook.

Staff and council had lots of discussion around how to advertise, select vendors, and charge vendors.

“We have already received several requests from people that are interested,” Cook said.

City planner Liliana Dragowska said the fee for the pilot project will be $200 per vendor, per spot, per month, in addition to the licensing for mobile vending which is $200 for the year.

A report submitted to council highlighted how staff looked at a similar project in Vancouver.

“We worked with our workyard staff and a number of vendors who have made inquiries and came up with the four areas in town. There are other alternatives that we considered, but we felt there needs to be more public engagement particularly around those sites,” Dragowska explained.

Many other communities are moving toward regulating mobile food vendors, and while the city wants to look at regulations, a pilot project was the best way to get things up and running for this season.

Dragowska told council there may be some push back from the community on some of the locations and what’s being allowed because so far the bylaws have restricted mobile vending to private property.

“We do have some mobile vendors that operate within Williams Lake at the Farmer’s Market or on private property, but nothing on the streets that has been permitted. One of the sites is right in front of city hall in the on-street parking.”

City Hall has heard concerns about those sites that sometimes people park too long in the spots and that there is limited street parking available on Oliver Street.

However, the city has heard that those spots would be ideal for mobile vending.

After the pilot project, city staff will bring a report with recommendations to council.

At the meeting council also received a proposal from the Williams Lake Central Business Improvement Area Association for a Chuck Wagon Concession to be erected on Community Corner at Oliver Street and Third Avenue as a year-round food vendor.