White Rock considers food trucks, too

Naureen Grewal enjoys a snack in Bay Street Park with her mom Varine Virk and three-month-old daughter Savreen. - Tracy Holmes
Naureen Grewal enjoys a snack in Bay Street Park with her mom Varine Virk and three-month-old daughter Savreen.
— image credit: Tracy Holmes

White Rock councillors want to know if there’s an appetite for food trucks on the city’s waterfront.

After giving the go-ahead to a second summer of allowing food carts – despite limited participation last year – council voted this week to host a public-information meeting on whether the opportunity should also be extended to food trucks.

The meeting is set for 6:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 2 at the White Rock Community Centre (15154 Russell Ave.).

But at least one councillor was adamant that the trucks should not be on the menu.

“We just got rid of one polluting device,” Coun. Louise Hutchinson said Monday, referring to council’s July 2012 decision to eliminate charcoal barbecues from West Beach.

“To put smelly food trucks… I think would be very bad.”

According to a staff report, food trucks were included in the recommendation for 2014 based on interest in them received by the city.

Richard Wilson, the city’s acting director of development services, suggested up to four be allowed to operate on West Beach, in the Bay Street parking lot. He estimated the city’s cost to provide electricity at about $10,000, and the loss of parking revenue for the season (May 1- Oct. 31) at just over $12,000.

For food carts, Wilson proposed limiting the number of vendors to three, and concentrating the carts between the pier and just west of the museum. He estimated the cost of installing concrete pads and electrical connections for the carts at $11,600.

In explaining the suggested locations, Wilson said last year’s pilot determined there is “limited business viability” for outside those areas.

In response to concerns expressed by Coun. Bill Lawrence around the cost of providing the program, city manager Dan Bottrill described the expense as “an investment in our promenade that allows a more professional approach.”

“Any time we’re able to increase the interest in White Rock… is going to be benefitting all of the businesses,” Bottrill said. “We may have differing opinions as to whether or not that will occur.”

Lawrence – who co-owns the Sandpiper Pub on East Beach – also cited concern that the carts and trucks would take business away from existing restaurateurs.

Lawrence cast the sole dissenting vote against allowing the carts and holding a public meeting.

Coun. Grant Meyer said he shared Lawrence’s concern regarding costs. He suggested the public meeting because he wants to hear what residents have to say about adding food trucks.

“I’d rather see it done right with all the information than have it done wrong and have to backtrack,” Meyer said.

While Coun. Al Campbell said he wants to encourage the food-cart program, he expects “major pushback” from West Beach residents regarding the trucks.

A suggestion by Wilson that both opportunities be open to vendors outside of White Rock did not sit well with Hutchinson.

First dibs should be limited “to people already paying a business tax to White Rock,” she said.

If there is no response, then extend the call, she said.

Bottrill cautioned council about the potential impact of delaying a decision on the program, noting last year’s late start was detrimental.

“I wouldn’t want to try and repeat the same error,” he said.

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