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White Rock's waterfront food-truck future ‘in limbo’

Food carts are touted as a tourist draw in downtown Portland, but they likely won
Food carts are touted as a tourist draw in downtown Portland, but they likely won't be seen in White Rock this summer.
— image credit: Portland Oregon Visitors Association Photo (www.travelportland.com)

Food trucks are off the table in White Rock – for now, but not necessarily for good.

Following a report, council voted unanimously last week to have staff take a closer look at exactly what such a program entails.

“It’s kind of in limbo,” city manager Dan Bottrill told Peace Arch News. “Unless something comes up further, we probably won’t have a food-truck program this year.”

In presenting her report, director of planning and development services Karen Cooper told council a food-truck program is “not an easy thing to develop.”

“There’s more work that staff needs to do,” she said.

City staff in March recommended adding up to four food trucks to the waterfront menu this summer, following a pilot with food carts last year.

After giving a thumbs-up to bringing the carts back, a community forum was held to gauge the interest of residents and business owners in the idea.

The reaction, Cooper said, was mixed.

Of those who attended the forum or completed an online survey, 64 per cent expressed interest in having food trucks in White Rock; 20 per cent were opposed, Cooper said.

She suggested further research – into things such as appropriate locations and conditions for approval – and a report outlining the findings by the end of the year.

Bottrill said as soon as the idea of a food-truck forum was supported, odds of getting the program off the ground in time for the summer season diminished.

“When we talked about this… in March, even then it was getting a little tight,” Bottrill said. “I’m imagining food-truck operators have already figured out what they’re doing (for the summer).”

According to Cooper’s report, forum attendees who expressed interest in food trucks named enhanced tourism and additional options for families who don’t want to bring young children into a restaurant as among potential benefits. Concerns cited included the loss of parking revenue, potential impacts on existing Marine Drive restaurants and view impacts.

While staff, in the March report, recommended allowing food trucks in the Bay Street parking lot on west beach, Cooper said the site was not suggested in any of the submissions received from the public. Instead, uptown White Rock, the east side of the museum and the promenade during off-peak hours were identified as possible sites.

In discussing the issue last week, Coun. Helen Fathers said she doesn’t support allowing food trucks on the waterfront for a full season, but would like to see a food-truck festival. She also questioned a suggestion by city staff for the city to provide electricity for the trucks.

The staff report is to include options for the city to recover its costs, including the loss of pay parking revenue; as well, comments from White Rock Business Improvement Association and Tourism White Rock officials.

 

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