Crowsnest council passes mobile vendor policy

·3 min read

With nice summer weather extending into September, don’t be surprised if food trucks linger around the area as the seasons change to fall.

With a recent influx of mobile vendors to the community, Crowsnest Pass council and administration have been working on a policy to evaluate and approve applications for mobile vendors wishing to utilize public spaces.

Council approved the mobile-vendor policy, Policy 2005-01, during its Aug. 23 regular council meeting.

The main task the policy accomplishes is allowing vendors to operate on municipal roads. Before, mobile vendors could work on public roadways only as part of a special event.

The policy defines a mobile vendor as any motor vehicle, pushcart, trailer or similar structure over 3.3 square metres that sells merchandise or food, such as food trucks, bicycle food vendors, hotdog carts, ice cream trucks and fresh-food stands.

Approved vendor applicants are allowed to use public sidewalks, street spaces, parks, and sports facilities and fields to conduct their business.

An annual permit is required for vendors to operate, as well as a business licence, vehicle registration and licensing, and provincial food permits. Comprehensive liability insurance over $5 million is also needed.

Vendors must specify in their application which locations they plan to operate in. Locations are not exclusive so are first come, first served for different vendors. One A-board sign may be set up, placed so as not to impede foot traffic; vendors are not allowed to set up tables and chairs unless an exemption is provided.

Operation is restricted between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. Other time restrictions may apply to specific areas at the discretion of the development officer.

The sale of alcohol or cannabis is prohibited, as well as using a speaker or amplifying device to play music or advertise. Vendors are responsible for keeping the location clean, including placing mats under the vending unit to catch potential leaks and providing receptacles for garbage.

The policy does not apply to vendors wishing to operate from private property or as part of an approved special event like the farmers market or a festival.

One idea that was floated in the policy was requiring a setback for vendors away from established restaurants. The idea, however, was not supported by council members.

“I don’t feel that we should restrict where they go,” said Mayor Blair Painter. “Is it direct competition if a truck moves to the other side of the street? How different is that than a new restaurant moving in next door? Should that be our concern to do that, to say oh we can only have one restaurant on this block within so many metres of the next restaurant? Or is this not free enterprise?”

Generating some business competition, added Coun. Lisa Sygutek, isn’t a bad thing.

“These mobile vendors, they work their butts off and they work hours — I bet you dollars to doughnuts, if you let them park on the street on a Saturday afternoon at 1 o’clock they would be the busiest mobile vendor in this frickin’ community,” she said.

“So you know why I’m going to vote for that? Because our business people are lazy and they don’t want to work around tourism,” Sygutek continued.

“You walk down main street Blairmore on a Saturday and everybody says, ‘Oh, I want tourism,’ and every place is closed at 3 o'clock. Or you bike on a Sunday and it’s like a freaking ghost town and yet they bitch to us that we’re not bringing tourism in. So you know why I'm going to vote for this? For that reason alone.”

The mobile vendor policy is now in force.

Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze