Niverville Council unanimously passed a bylaw that will essentially, allow food trucks to set up at designated spots in town.
Last month, Niverville Town Council gave 1st reading to a brand-new mobile food services by-law, which was then brought before Council at Tuesday's meeting to be reviewed, discussed and possibly have 2nd and 3rd readings passed for immediate implementation.
However, it took over half an hour of discussion and debate before Bylaw 854-23 passed unanimously, which began with CAO Eric King reading the resolution.
“Be it resolved that council give 2nd and 3rd reading to bylaw 854-23 for the purpose of licensing mobile food service units within the town.”
It was noted that there had already been much discussion between Niverville Chamber members, Niverville business owners, and Niverville Town Councilors, prior to the council meeting.
During the discussion portion, Councilor Nathan Dueck raised two concerns. One, that Niverville businesses would be protected, and two, that there was a clear path when it came to an infraction of the new by-law, and the request for details on how the town would be dealing with these kinds of individuals.
To which King noted that when it came to Dueck’s first concern, the new by-law was one of the strictest in the country with licensing fees to match the taxes paid by local businesses owners.
To the second concern, King noted, that they will be able to enforce fines for non-compliant vendors through their bylaw officer, and law enforcement officers if needed. The offenders will be fined and if necessary, they will be refused a license to set up a food truck in Niverville.
It was noted that in 2018 council did pass a bylaw pertaining to “mobile transient businesses”, however, this new one has more restrictions, and would overwrite the old one.
Mayor Myron Dyck explained what some of the licensing fee conditions are, as stated in the new bylaw.
“The permit fees are essentially half of what a Niverville business would pay for an entire year. So, because a food truck can only operate six months of the year, from May 1 to October 31, the permit fee would be equal to taxes paid by a local business for half the year.”
Dyck notes another condition is that the food truck can’t operate within 200 metres of any eating or drinking establishment.
“To put that into perspective, that puts any trucks at the corner of Arena Road, in the parking lot. It eliminates Main Street but allows for trucks on the east side of town, by the town office, and at Hespler Park, which are all approved locations.”
Dyck also noted that should a Niverville brick-and-mortar business want to set up a mobile food truck in Niverville, they would still need a license, but there would be no licensing fee.
Eric King noted that in the future if it’s needed, the bylaw can be amended.
“A resolution can always be brought to council at a later date. So, passing the bylaw now gives greater flexibility to any concerns, and any changes can be addressed once we see how this bylaw works.”
Councilor Dueck noted that he was not trying to delay the passing of the bylaw rather he wanted to make sure that council was making the right decision for the community and local businesses.
He responded to Dyck and King, “By answering those questions, that has given me greater understanding.”
After the question was asked, council unanimously passed 2nd and 3rd reading of the bylaw.
In an interview after the meeting, Niverville Mayor Myron Dyck clarified the decision council made.
“So, the bylaw that we had prior to passing today, was that they (food truck vendors) could set up in town as long as they paid the fee. Council has reviewed this and decided that we want to be able to protect the businesses in our community. If someone, who is selling the same thing you are, is parked right in front of your door, taking parking spots from customers that would be visiting your establishment, well, that's not right.”
Dyck continued noting that council, together with members of the Niverville Chamber of Commerce, had reviewed the bylaw and thanked those involved in the process.
“We really appreciate the Executive Director and their board and all those that have weighed in on this, because it's taken about two years to finalize this bylaw.”
Dyck noted that it is one of the more stringent bylaws in the country. He explains some of the restrictions of the mobile food vendors wanting to set up in Niverville.
“They can't set up within 200 metres of any food establishment. So, that essentially wipes out Main Street. It allows a couple of spots in Hesper Park and it allows a couple of spots in what is a ‘Green Zone’, if you will, right beside our railway tracks and in close proximity to our arena, but still outside of 200 meters from any food establishment, so, there are a few options.”
Dyck explains why this bylaw, though it is already in effect, will not affect their fair weekend food trucks.
“Because we give our fair committee full autonomy over what they wish to do, and food trucks is part of what they wish to do. So, that's fine.”
Dyck says he’s heard that some food truck vendors, who believe that the fees are too high, but he goes on to defend their decision.
“We did that because these vendors, for lack of a better term, compete with our business. So, we’re asking them to pay a similar amount in fees as a local business would in taxes.”
During the council meeting the question was asked whether the town could put a limit on what kinds of food trucks would be allowed to set up in Niverville, to which Dyck noted,
“Our job is not to say who can and cannot set up in their town. That's not our job. We have a free economy. And so, if a food truck believes they can set up with what has now been passed in this bylaw and can make a dollar doing it, or they just simply wish to be in the community, more power to them.”
Immediately following the unanimous approval of bylaw 854-23, another bylaw passed unanimously 2nd and 3rd reading, regarding for-profit mobile businesses.