City of Powell River Council will consider expanding the territory on which street vending businesses can operate.
At the April 16 city council meeting, manager of planning services Jason Gow outlined a proposal to permit street vending businesses to operate on vacant lands outside the city’s commercial and industrial precincts.
Gow said he had provided a report to give council the opportunity to consider amendments to the street vending bylaw. He said the bylaw was adopted in 2018 as a standalone bylaw because it was in the interest of council to see better regulation of street vending. He said by doing so it made it simpler to make amendments and be more cost effective.
Gow said the reason the matter was coming forward was that it was largely tied to a request from an individual property owner and a street vendor that was operating on a vacant piece of land in the Grief Point area, on Highway 101 between Cariboo and Whitby avenues. The vendor has operated there for a number of years.
“I guess what happened was bylaw enforcement and the planning team realized a licence had been issued to the vendor in error, because the street vending bylaw doesn’t permit street vendors to operate on a vacant piece of land,” said Gow.
According to a report by Gow to council, as a result, the city’s bylaw enforcement forced the vendor to cease operation. Following this, both the vendor and property owner approached planning staff to understand what had changed, stated Gow.
“Once it was explained that staff had erred by issuing the licence in the first place, both parties requested council consider amendments to the street vending bylaw to permit this street vending business to operate at this location,” stated Gow in his report.
Gow told council what was being proposed was a recommendation to loosen restrictions to street vending on vacant parcels of land outside of commercial or industrial precincts.
“The point here is planning staff are supportive of allowing street vending on vacant parcels where it is not in direct competition to our brick and mortar businesses that have made a larger investment in their properties,” said Gow.
He said there might be benefits to having street vending in a more residential neighbourhood as long as the street vendor is adhering to requirements of the bylaw.
“What we are recommending is to allow street vending to happen on a vacant piece of property,” said Gow.
Councillor George Doubt said he read through Gow’s report and it did not seem like there was a large number of commercially zoned vacant properties where street vending could operate.
“What we are really talking about is the one piece of property that has been used for food vending, and two properties in Wildwood,” said Doubt.
Councillor Maggie Hathaway said she had a question about whether there was any direction in the bylaw on the appearance of an operation like this that stays in a location 24/7. She said the property on Highway 101 was at the entrance to the community.
“To be perfectly honest, I didn’t find it to be very attractive, because it wasn’t very well kept,” said Hathaway. “I’m just wondering if there’s any language in the bylaw that gives any direction on that.”
Gow said there may be a give and take situation where the city works with the landowner to allow them to operate there and there may be a case to have them “spruce up” the operation to make it more attractive.
Councillor Jim Palm said he agrees with Hathaway that the entrance to the community has to be safeguarded. He said he was happy to hear there are only three additional sites where vendors could operate.
Council has referred the matter to a future meeting to give the first three readings to a street vending amendment bylaw.