A food truck is ready to land on a currently vacant green space adjacent to Ucluelet’s Davison Plaza, but the locals living across the street aren’t sure they want a restaurant popping up in their neighbourhood.
During March 28’s regular meeting, Ucluelet’s municipal council reviewed a business licence and development permit application that would see a food truck slot onto the property, which would be landscaped and fenced off with three new parking spots installed.
A food truck would fit into the area’s commercial zoning, but a permit is needed to develop the surrounding area with fences and seating.
“The proposed location, while distinctly within Ucluelet’s commercial core, is close to a residential area with the fencing and screening being an attempt to mitigate any conflict,” wrote Ucluelet’s Planner 1 in a report submitted to council. “The [Official Community Plan] encourages both the infill and the increase of commercial density and the proposed is a step in that direction. Mobile Vending is a growing trend in B.C. and is a sought out dining option for both residents and tourists.”
During the meeting’s public input portion, Ucluelet local Shaun Mills spoke against the project.
Mills, who lives directly across the street from the site, said the three parking spots wouldn’t be enough and parking would likely spill onto nearby roads.
“Transients and extra foot traffic coming and going past residential property would increase potential crime in the area,” he added. “There is already an issue with people loitering and trying to steal. We don’t need to invite more to the residential area.”
He said the garbage created by the food truck would be troublesome.
“The increase of crows and wildlife that would be attracted to the area is a health and safety concern as birds would be waiting on the electrical wires that are on the residential side of the street defecating on the property, vehicles and waiting to swoop in,” he said. “I’m also concerned about the added noise and overall safety for family and neighbourhood children in the area due to traffic.”
He said he canvassed the immediate neighbourhood for signatures to urge council to consider the residential ramifications of a food truck coming in and no one had heard about the project.
“I feel we have been left in the dark about this,” he said. “I’ve had a chance to visit 10 houses and, out of those 10, we have eight signatures and none of the people have been aware of what was happening in the area.”
Scott Stewart, who identified himself as the food truck’s owner, disagreed with Mills’ assessment.
“You paint a pretty bleak scenario of what it would be like,” he said.
“That’s not at all something I want to be a part of. I want something that’s a beautiful space and a great environment where locals and my family can work and be proud of and, hopefully, you guys can be proud of.”
He said campers are currently using the site to dispose of garbage that is then batted around by crows.
“Urine and feces, it’s all happening back there right now,” he said adding he plans to add lights and cameras to the area for security.
Coun. Marilyn McEwen asked why neighbouring residents had not yet been reached out to and Towgood responded the development permit did not require public input. “There is no notification requirements for this. This is a council decision,” he said.
Coun. Randy Oliwa noted council had handled two similar food truck applications in the past year and expressed frustration with the lack of information available.
“We had asked for a staff report on the historical significance and decisions that were made on this topic of food trucks…I don’t believe we’ve ever seen that follow up report,” he said.
“We haven’t done our homework on this…We need that information because all of this is a regurgitation of the last two that we had and we need to do some work as council to tidy those things up.”
Coun. Sally Mole said Mills had raised solid points and the rest of the neighbourhood should be asked for input.
“I worry that there may be people out there who want to have input and I’d like to take that into consideration.”
Mayor Dianne St. Jacques agreed, but noted a food truck was allowed in the area regardless.
“We have heard in the past that there’s been loitering and things going on in that area of the plaza property that’s not very good and, I think, having this there would shift that somewhat and would clean it up and make it a much nicer area,” she added.
Council agreed to delay the food truck decision until more information could be received and also approved a motion from Coun. Randy Oliwa to investigate how food trucks fit into the district’s business licence and zoning bylaws.
“So we can put into place the needs that we’ve talked about several times, so that when an application like this comes forward, it’s really clear on what we’d like to see,” Oliwa said.