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Town council hopes to attract permanent, quality vendors with passage of food street vendor bylaw
Town of Osoyoos council has passed a new street food vendor bylaw designed to attract quality food vendors who will offer unique menu items and commit long-term to serve the resident and tourist market in Osoyoos.
After a draft bylaw was presented to town council two weeks ago, staff made two significant changes to the new bylaw, including a provision that senior administration will be responsible for approving vendors in accordance with council policy, but with council itself only involved in considering vendor use on town lands.
The second key change is that downtown street food vendors will have to be located at least 60 metres from fixed-roof restaurants and must fill a different market niche with their menu to avoid unfair competition, said Alain Cunningham, the town’s director of development and planning and man responsible for forming the new bylaw.
As was discussed by members of council two weeks ago, a maximum quota of two food vendors will be allowed business licenses in each of four different categories.
These include stationary vendors in approved parks; stationary downtown vendors on public parking spaces off Main Street, but not on private property as this has created problems in the past; stationary vendors located outside of primary liquor establishment properties; and fully mobile street vendors.
The owners of local bars, restaurants and pubs will be able to apply for a business license to operate a food cart on their own or hire an independent owner to operate the food cart outside of their premises.
“It is anticipated that the quota system will attract new interest among serious food vendors about the Osoyoos marketplace, while ensuring their numbers do not overly compete with our fixed-roof restaurants,” said Cunningham.
The town will now run newspaper advertisements over the next couple of weeks asking for expressions of interest from street food vending operators and personal notices will be sent to all vendors who operated in town last year.
“To promote competition, diversity and keep opportunities open for local businesses, prospective vendors can only apply in one quota category for one site,” said Cunningham. “They will have to provide sufficient supporting information to enable staff to appraise their proposal against selection criteria laid out in the proposed policy, which is based on an Ottawa model.
“This competitive procedure should help promote quality vendors and glean out less serious operators.”
Staff will rate all applications against the established criteria approved by council and select approved vendors up to the quota maximums.
Approved vendors will then be invited to complete applications to meet business license requirements, said Cunningham.
License holders will be able to apply for annual extensions for up to five years as long as they remain in good standing with the town, he said.
The goal is vendors who are committed to the Osoyoos marketplace will make long-term commitments to operating in this community and will be more confident to invest in quality equipment and providing menu options that are unique, he said.
Town staff often wasted a lot of their time processing applications only to see a street food vendor come to Osoyoos for only a few weeks, pack up their equipment and never return, he said.
“Staff will now focus on creating a supportive business environment for quality food vendors,” he said. “After the first year of operations, it can be expected that demands on staff time will be reduced.”
The closing date for street food vendors hoping to set up their business in Osoyoos for 2014 is February 28.
Staff will complete the final vendor selection by March 15.
Successful applicants can then apply for a business license.
The current members of council have remained united in their support of allowing street food vendors in this community, even though some restaurant owners objected to them being allowed at all.
Several members of council talked at the last meeting of council about creating a “food culture” in this community and believe having a variety of street food vendors only enhances the visitor experience when they come to Osoyoos on vacation.