Mayor and council voted unanimously to enter into a contract with Valley Kitchen to operate the concession located at Central Park.
The concession was constructed at the same time that the outdoor, multi-use sports box was constructed, but has been mostly unoccupied since that time.
“This concession has been the location of a local contractor in years past, but that agreement was terminated by the City under the terms of the contract in place,” said Sky McKeown, Manager of Recreation and Facilities, who presented a written report to council.
“In the past few years, except in 2020, the City had advertised for interested parties and engaged in several conversations, but nothing came to fruition.”
This spring, in response to an ad requesting interested parties, three potential operators came forward, with Valley Kitchen committing by submitting a detailed business plan.
Valley Kitchen then attended City Hall to discuss a potential contract, which resulted in a draft agreement of the terms of service.
Councillor Tony Luck brought up the prior contractor who had occupied the building, and the issues that had arisen due to issues that had been outlined with the building and commercial kitchen which would be used by any operator of the concession.
“I understand last time there were some issues about the kitchen and facilities being adequate, with the right venting and everything,” said Luck.
“Have we got that all taken care of this time so that isn’t a problem like before?”
McKeown assured that he had conducted a “site meeting” with Valley Kitchen, and that they had been satisfied with the facility.
“…there are no issues,” said McKeown.
“The kitchen will function as they have planned.”
Mayor Brown mentioned that some issues with the last operator had occurred due to weather conditions, mostly because the previous contract had been year-round, whereas this contract would only run from May 1 to Sept. 30.
“The Central Park location of this concession building allows for ample parking for both drop-in tourists and local citizen patrons,” continued McKeown’s report.
“In order to take advantage of this, staff wish to enter into a licence of occupation for the summer months to allow a catering business to operate out of the concession stand. The location will also assist with providing food and drink choices for patrons who attend scheduled and drop in sporting events in the park.”
The rental cost to Valley Kitchen will be $1,200 per month, with no financial risk for the city, which will receive 100% cost recovery regarding all utilities, certifications, cleaning and damage deposits.
“I just want to elaborate that the risk of not doing it is that there’s not going to be anybody in that building for a long time, and let me tell you what the costs of that are going to be,” said City CAO Sean Smith.
Morgan Hampton, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Merritt Herald