A pilot project that could have seen food trucks roll into a Central Saanich park this year won’t happen after all.
Council voted against plans for a pilot project that could have brought food trucks to Centennial Park (or Island View Regional Park), with Couns. Carl Jensen and Chris Graham opposed.
While staff had recommended a pilot project in May, additional consultation mandated by council found opposition among the businesses most likely affected by such a program at Centennial Park or Island View Regional Park, according to a staff report.
“The brick-and-mortar businesses did not support food trucks operating on a daily basis near their businesses,” it reads. “(Local) restaurant and cafe owners have expressed they are struggling due to the impact of COVID and have concerns about increasing competition.”
The idea of allowing food trucks to operate in a public park had emerged against the backdrop of daily life shifting outdoors in the face of public health measures designed to fight COVID-19. But as the province prepares to lift these measures, staff have recommended against the pilot project.
While Coun. Jensen acknowledged the struggles of businesses, he pointed out some of those businesses are still able to open. “There are other locally owned businesses that haven’t been able to open,” he said. “So in that regard, we are not looking out for some of our local businesses who base themselves solely on the business of things such festivals.”
He also wondered how the pilot project would have been different than programs such as Music in the Park and the Peninsula Country Market. Both events allow food trucks. “There are some inconsistencies that we should be considering,” he said.
When council asked staff to study the issue in more detail last month, Jensen had declared a conflict of interest. But the public heard Monday that this conflict had since resolved itself because the Central-Saanich based business that would have employed his children has gone to another municipality.
Monday’s vote also means that staff will look into clarifying the policy for allowing businesses in parks and does not affect food trucks operating on private commercial properties, where they can operate without district permission where restaurant use is permitted as long as they are not taking up required parking spots
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