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Port Stanley News RSS Feed  Editorials Allowing Food Vendors

by Doug Harvey
Allowing Food Vendors

The Council of the Municipality of Central Elgin will be holding a public meeting on March 27 at 7 P.M. about the possibility of allowing food vendors.

Allowing food vendors on the beaches is back in the spotlight, again. It seems like this topic comes up mostly in the spring, and deserves a mention at least every year. The main reason that this topic keeps coming up would not be because of some new business proposal of a Hot Dog Stand, or Coffee Shop, but this forms part of the dream of a Self-Supporting Harbour, one that has all kinds of Tourist amenities to serve every possible Tourist Wish List.

The idea of allowing businesses to operate some kind of temporary, somewhat mobile businesses on Port Stanley's Beaches and Harbour Land, has gained some momentum in recent years with Harbour activities like Canfest or Harbourfest, and the advent of some sport equipment rentals, beach massage services, beverage, and ice-cream carts. Sea-doo rentals keep trying to come up with an acceptable proposal, but a launch location from the beach was unacceptable. With Hofhuis Park almost finished, that far more agreeable launch location looks more and more like the next possible site for added Tourist services.

After talking to a business owner about this topic of allowing food vendors on the Beach, or Harbour Land, all I could think about was that it was inevitable that sooner or later that this will happen, regardless of the what opposition local businesses bring forward to try stopping this progression of the Harbour Business Plan. When you take a look at how many businesses in Port Stanley are involved directly with the food and beverage industry, the damage caused by allowing seasonal food vendor businesses, these seasonal food vendors will pay only a small permit fee, to local establishments that pay rather high taxes for year round operation, will take it's toll.

With Tourism being the prime industry in Port Stanley, a business has to make most of it's money during that short summer season, and if that doesn't happen, well everyone knows the outcome. So my only advice to the business owner was to make their opinion clear, and public, and maybe that would buy some time on that inevitable progression of the Harbour Business Plan. Some people say that maybe I'm too cautious, but then I say, then why does this topic of discussion keep coming up if it was not about testing for public opposition to see if the time was right to implement a policy change.

March 12, 2012 Council Meeting

Each year someone appears before Central Elgin Council to pitch the idea of some sort of temporary, seasonal business on main beach in Port Stanley, and at their meeting of March 12, 2012 Council again turned down the proposal, in favour of the established businesses who pay taxes year round.

Here are some quotes from the March 12, 2012 Council Meeting, when there was a proposal to operate a mobile food vending cart on Port Stanley Beach.

"Our premise is to protect full time businesses, not just those who come in for prime time," said Deputy Mayor Marr.

"Our year round businesses depend on the summer business, and starve in the winter," said Councillor McNeil. "If we open the door and allow one, where do you close it?"

Councillor Martyn thought they could look at Little Beach for such a venture, stating she believed there were no restaurants in that area with which a cart would be in competition. Marr noted that nothing could be considered for the Little Beach area until all the risk assessment procedures had been completed.

Ensuring Non Competitive Beach Vendors

With two requests from potential beach vendors who would be offering essentially the same services, Council discussion focused on the non-competitive issue with local merchants during the Central Elgin council meeting of May 11, 2015.

Councillor McNeil was concerned that this vendor permit application had not first gone to the User Fee Committee to deal with the non-competitive issue. He said that as a member of that committee last year, their position had been there would be no more than one of any type of business in one location and they would not compete with any close-by local businesses.

Last Updated: Tuesday, 07 March 2017 14:57:31 PM EST

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