Ideas for new attractions were offered by attendees of a community forum on the waterfront held last year at the White Rock Community Centre.

White Rock merchants split over food carts

The City of White Rock is launching a food-cart pilot project next month along the waterfront.

The City of White Rock is venturing into the food-cart movement, launching a pilot project next month along the waterfront.

Existing seaside restaurateurs interested in operating a cart along the promenade this summer have until 4:30 p.m. Friday to apply for one of up to 15 possible locations.

“What we were intending to do was try to enhance the experience on the waterfront,” city manager Dan Bottrill explained Thursday.

“There’s been some interest. Some people… have been emailing for a few weeks, wondering when we’re ready.”

Bottrill said the idea stemmed from a suggestion made during last year’s community forum on the waterfront. Putting it into play first required amendments to the city’s official community plan to allow commerce south of Marine Drive – amendments that were finalized “a few weeks” ago.

“Obviously, we thought it was a good suggestion and we’re moving forward on it,” Bottrill said.

Don Gilroy, outgoing executive director of the White Rock Business Improvement Association, said Thursday that support for the idea is split: merchants who can afford to invest in a food cart are in favour, while those who can’t, aren’t.

When the idea was first raised several months ago, it was with “enough detail to make people panic, but not enough… to get people to respond,” Gilroy said.

Now that the request is out, merchants will need to review their budgets to see if it is workable to participate, he said, describing food carts as something that “can work really well” in certain regions.

At least one restaurateur said she is in favour of the idea.

Jan Wait of Jan’s on the Beach said while she doesn’t plan to apply for a food-cart site this year, she is “fine” with other Marine Drive merchants taking the opportunity.

It is “definitely not a cheap undertaking,” Wait noted.

In White Rock, the opportunity will be restricted to existing restaurateurs who want to operate a non-motorized food, beverage and/or ice cream cart between June 15 and Oct. 15.

Bottrill said the city is also looking to add stand-up paddleboard and kayak opportunities to the waterfront.

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