Food vendor unhappy with business licencing fees

Dave McConnell, a local mobile food vendor, owner, and operator, is protesting the high costs of a mobile concession business licence compared to a regular business licence.

While most business licences, including restaurants, cost $93.75 per year, a mobile concession licence costs $500.

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“This increase is an unfair increase for small business owners within our northern community, where we are privileged to have, at most, 3 months of summer weather,” he wrote in a letter to council.

He asked council to reduce the fee to $93.75. He also notes that vendors are limited in days they can operate — it is not a single source of income, so typically weekend events — and events, which are often crowded with vendors, require a fee to appear. (Restaurants, he says, are allowed to attend without a mobile licence).

Council discussed the letter at the February 25 council meeting.

“We do seem on the high side,” says Councillor Blair Lekstrom.

CAO Duncan Redfearn noted the fee was previously $187.50, but was raised to $500 in 2017. “A lot of the talk was about competitors who aren’t mobile vendors, so restaurants and that property tax, and owning infrastructure, versus a mobile vendor who has that ability to move throughout.”

It was increased through a request to use city property by vendors, which was not previously allowed, says Redfearn.

McConnell in letter says the amount of time city property is viable to set up shop is limited, and the one location that would be ideal — NAR Park — is not allowed.

“I don’t see a problem with that rate,” says Councillor Paul Gevatkoff. “The disadvantage that existing businesses, like McDonald’s, and A&W have is that they are in existence through good times and bad times — the mobile vending, in my experience — we targeted high volume events.”

Lekstrom asked staff to bring clarification on the issue to the next Committee of the Whole meeting on March 25.

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