Sechelt tweaks mobile vendor bylaw to allow overnight parking

Sechelt council has voted in favour of changing their mobile vending bylaw after hearing from an ice cream seller who wants to set up a fixed kiosk on the Trail Bay waterfront instead of a traditional mobile vending operation.

Lane Cobiskey of e.b.’s Ice Cream told council on March 6 that he wanted to set up a shop at Friendship Park that could be left in place for the season. He said it would allow for a more attractive and accessible kiosk, and eliminate some of the dangers involved in getting a mobile unit in and out of the tight parking space at the park.

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Cobiskey also said his idea had a lot of support from the public and downtown businesses.

His original plan to set up in Acacia Park wasn’t practical and he found out he didn’t qualify for Sechelt’s mobile vending pads, after the district issued a call for applications to rent pads at Davis Bay, Kinnikinnick Park and Friendship Park on the Trail Bay waterfront in January.

Director of finance Doug Stewart said in a report to council April 3 that in assessing the applications they had to consider the bylaw as it was, which prohibits vendors from remaining parked overnight.

Stewart proposed a change to the bylaw that would “not require vendors to vacate their location each night” on the condition that vendors carried adequate liability insurance and signed a waiver to not hold the district responsible for any damage to their units. And, although they wouldn’t have to move every night, the units would still have to be mobile.

Coun. Tom Lamb said he was reluctant to support a change that could lead to unfair competition.

“I struggle a bit with someone being able to come in for four months – cherry-pick the best four months of the year. Most of the other merchants struggle to survive through the rest [of the year]… You’ve got people that have set up bricks and mortar, they’re paying taxes year round, they’re trying to improve the community on that basis,” Lamb said, although he added be would be open to supporting a one-year trial.

Coun. Alton Toth, co-owner of a store downtown, said he feels the provisions of the mobile vending bylaw already guard against unfair competition. “Mobile vending, I think, is a good opportunity for a new business that maybe wants to try something out… It’s a good way to get your feet wet in the market before you commit to a storefront.”

Others on council also said they would support a one-year trial period, and voted unanimously to make the change to the bylaw with the additional clause that the bylaw be reviewed after this year.

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