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by Doug Harvey
Mobile Food Vendors Public Meeting
Mobile Ice Cream Vendor during Canfest

The Public Meeting concerning Mobile Food Vendors in Port Stanley was the only item on the thirty minute Planning Application agenda. Preparations by the Municipality were made to accommodate more people than the crowd that filled the main Council Chambers to voice their opinions.

Mobile Food Vendors in Port Stanley's beach and harbour areas, land that is now owned by Municipality of Central Elgin is a subject that divides the Port Stanley business community. On one side we have the brick and mortar food services, business's that are permanent operations, many stay open year round to service the public during the tourist off season where profits are non-existent, and all pay substantial taxes to be located, and operate in this mainly tourist driven economy. Many opposed to Mobile Food Vendors cited that an unfair advantage would be had because of the low cost of licencing fees, no taxes paid, and no BIA or community involvement.

On the other side some businesses feel that a variety is the way to go, having more choices for the tourist to experience during their stay in Port Stanley, as long as it doesn't directly affect them, but their competition over there, or down the road, who cares, after all it's a dog eat dog kind of world.

The Municipality has the position that in order for that vision of gaining back the status of what Port Stanley was in the past to becoming a reality for the future, any and all steps will be taken to make this happen. Setting the stage to make Port Stanley a more desirable tourist destination is a great vision, but can't happen overnight. But as Councillor Dan McNeil, former PSVA President said that this is not based upon greed, but based upon the desire to provide more activities, more businesses, more diversity, more opportunities once people were in Port Stanley. Later he also stated that he was blown away by the number of Port Stanley businesses that wanted Mobile Food Vendors for the area, but none offered Public opinions at this meeting.

Mobile Food Vendors from outside Port Stanley suggest that they would compliment the local establishments and would be better able to satisfy the tourists needs by location, being directly accessible among the tourists. Many that are for, gave the reasoning that Mobile Food Vendors works well in London, Toronto, and Orlando, Florida and should be allowed to operate in Port Stanley.

For a business to survive in the Port Stanley, one must take full advantage of the tiny window of opportunity that opens during the yearly warm, good weather summer season. Days with sunny skies and warm temperatures translates into more tourists that come to spend time and money in this community, and any time the weather changes to rain, especially on weekends affects Port Stanley's draw of tourists big-time. A level playing field is also needed for businesses to succeed, and without it, businesses will fail, causing concern for future investment.

When conditions are right Port Stanley has a surge of tourists that make up for the bad times and fill the coffers of all those who operate a business, but the catch is, is there any room left for a mobile type of operation that can be located right in the center of tourist activities. Opinions expressed by the St Thomas and District Chamber of Commerce suggest that Port Stanley would not be good place to offer Mobile Food Vendors on a permanent basis. Even Shaw's owner, a direct competitor to Brodericks Ice Cream suggested to Council that this was not a good thing for Port Stanley, but if Council had to allow this then residents of the Municipality of Central Elgin should be given preference in bringing Mobile Food Vendors to Port Stanley.

After almost an hour the meeting ended, with hopes from the opposition that the Mobile Food Vendors by-law will not get passed this time around when it comes back to Council where a zoning by-law amendment will be considered. Council did not provide a clear position on what would happen in the future other than say that this issue will be dealt with in the Harbour Plan.

Proposed By-law Amendment

Community of Port Stanley

Take Notice that; a) pursuant to Subsection 34( 10) of the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990, as amended, Council of the Municipality of Central Elgin has initiated a proposed Zoning By -law Amendment, and b) a Public Meeting, pursuant to Subsection 34( 12) of the Planning Act, R.S.O. 1990, as amended, will be held by the Council of the Municipality of Central Elgin on the 27th day of March, 2017 at 7:00 P.M. in the Council Chambers of the County Administration Building, 450 Sunset Drive, St. Thomas, to consider a proposed amendment to the Village of Port Stanley Zoning By-law 1507.

The purpose of the Public Meeting is to afford any person that attends, an opportunity to make representation with respect to the zoning proposal. Central Elgin Council had a policy for Port Stanley's Main Beach Indicating that temporary Vendors were not permitted. In 2014, it was decided to pilot a new policy that would encourage more recreational activity and business opportunity during the tourist season. The pilot project also included the West Harbour Walkway and an area at Little Beach.

In 2015, Council was satisfied with the results of the pilot program based on the input received from Vendors and the public, and the program was made permanent. An increasing number of mobile food vendors have expressed interest in operating in these areas. This has not been possible because of a provision in By-law 1507 prohibiting the use of mobile homes and trailers for, among other things, commercial purposes.

Council is considering an amendment to the Village of Port Stanley Zoning By-law 1507 that would permit the use of mobile homes, as defined by the by-law, to be used by street vendors it certain municipally owned properties within the Community of Port Stanley. The areas being considered include the municipally owned portions of Main Beach, Little Beach and the harbour lands. The purpose of the amendment is to control where such use would be permitted, and to establish controls for the use.

ANY PERSON OR PUBLIC BODY may attend the Public Meeting and /or make written or verbal representation either in support of, or in opposition to the proposed Zoning By-law Amendment. If a person or public body does not make oral submissions at a public meeting or make written submissions to the Municipality of Central Elgin before the by-law is passed, the person or public body is not entitled to appeal the decision of the Municipality of Central Elgin to the Ontario Municipal Board.

If a person or public body does not make oral submissions at a public meeting, or make written submissions to the Municipality of Central Elgin before the by-law is passed, the person or public body may not be added as a party to the hearing of an appeal before the Ontario Municipal Board unless, in the opinion of the Board, there are reasonable grounds to do so.

Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 March 2017 09:43:51 AM EST

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