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Concession at Texada Park may reopen next year

Shelter Point service facility will be closed in 2023, but could resume operations in 2024
POTENTIAL REPRIEVE: While the concession at Shelter Point Regional Park will not be open this summer, and qathet Regional District will try to solicit the services of a food truck, there is potential for the concession to be open again in 2024 because a prospective bidder has come forward.

Texada Island’s Shelter Point Regional Park’s concession may get a reprieve in 2024.

At the May 24 qathet Regional District board meeting, directors heard a delegation from Danielle Cochrane regarding the prospect of opening the concession at the park in 2024.

Previously, at the May 3 committee of the whole meeting, directors received a staff recommendation to decommission the concession and repurpose the building. There had been no bidders to operate the concession in 2023 and the recommendation was to see if a food truck could operate in the park this year.

Cochrane said she had been an operator of the concession in prior years, for half of 2020 and all of 2021.

“I have put my hand up to say I am absolutely willing to bid on it for next year,” said Cochrane. “I have too many obligations with my current business, and I have travel plans that I absolutely refuse to put off this year.”

Cochrane said the concession is a profitable business and she turned a profit both years she operated it, although the profit was not huge.

“Nobody is ever going to get rich off the concession, but I was able to cover my costs and make a little bit of money,” said Cochrane. “I’m also a bookkeeper by trade and have done the books for myself, the two operators prior to me, and the one after me. Without getting into too much detail, I can say that most of those operators would agree with me.”

Cochrane said staffing is an issue, but knowing what she knows now, after having run the concession for a couple of years, she would reduce the hours she was open, meaning fewer staff would be required. She said there are three prospective staff members who would come back and work for her if she was to attain the contract.

Cochrane said she was the operator during COVID-19, and that presented challenges as well as costs that would not be required moving forward.

“I’d like to have another shot at it,” said Cochrane. “It would be a huge loss to the island.

“I would say 90 per cent of my business came from the locals. There actually weren’t many park visitors who spent money at the concession when I was operating it.”

Electoral Area D director Sandy McCormick said it was interesting to hear from a former operator that the business was profitable. She asked Cochrane if she was interested in a multi-year contract.

Cochrane said she would absolutely be interested in a multi-year contract, and three years was probably the maximum she would sign, with options for renewal.

Amended motion

Later in the meeting, the board considered a recommendation to decommission the Shelter Point Regional Park concession, that the board direct staff to repurpose the concession building, and that the board direct staff to seek the services of a food truck vendor at the park.

McCormick said she was putting forward alternative wording for a motion: that the board direct staff to close the Shelter Point park concession for 2023, and that the board direct staff to seek the services of a food truck vendor for the park this year. The second part of the motion was that any decision regarding decommissioning and repurposing of the concession building be referred to the 2024 budget process.

“The reason for the rewording is to leave the door open for a multi-year contract,” said McCormick. “I believe there is interest in the community, and so delaying the decision regarding the repurposing isn’t going to necessarily change anything staff was planning. To find out if there is interest in the community, we should do our bidding process in January, before the budget is done, so if there are no takers, or interest in the concession, we’ll know that, so we could plan accordingly in the budget for the 2024 work plan.

“The concession may not be paramount to the camping experience, but I would argue that it is an integral part of that experience. People come back to Shelter Point park because of the concession. It’s a tradition. You cannot cook an ice cream cone on a camp stove. The concession has a very vital role to play.”

McCormick’s motions were carried, so staff will see if a food truck can be found for 2023, and have discussions about future uses of the park concession as part of the 2024 budget process.