Ucluelet’s municipal council is grappling with the idea of allowing a non-food related mobile vendor.
Local wildlife watching company Beachcomber Ocean Tours is hoping to set up shop in a small structure that would sit on a trailer adjacent to Howler’s Family Restaurant at 1992 Peninsula Road.
All mobile vendors must receive council’s permission before operating and council was brought up to speed on the project by a report recently submitted by lead planner John Towgood.
Towgood suggested his staff recently noticed the structure and believed it was an unpermitted building so the owners of both Beachcomber and Howler’s were spoken to and subsequently submitted an official request to operate a mobile vendor on the restaurant’s property.
Towgood wrote the structure would be subject to the district’s bylaws in terms of hours of operation, insurance requirements and required setbacks but he noted the situation is unique.
“The proposed mobile vendor unit is in many ways presenting more like a building or kiosk than a typical mobile vendor vehicle,” he wrote adding patrons would enter the kiosk, which has a front patio and signage.
“Being that it is on a trailer and is mobile it is not subject to the building code…Being a mobile vendor also relieves the operator of the requirements for washrooms, parking, signage permits and development permits and building code elements.”
He suggested mobile vendors are typically food related and food vendors require certifications from the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Vancouver Island Health.
“What is being proposed is a building on a trailer and this mobile configuration is currently in a gray area with DOT,” he wrote. “The trailer is regulated to size, condition and weight but the building part is only considered the load that is transported from point A to point B.”
Towgood suggested the structure could bring added charm to Ucluelet’s tourism industry.
“Mobile vending can encourage pedestrian engagement and enhance the commercial environment,” he wrote. “This proposal is not what is typically considered mobile vending but it does bring a service retail element to the commercial street scape.”
After reviewing Towgood’s report, Coun. Randy Oliwa suggested he had never seen such a proposal and asked for staff to submit another report to council at its next meeting on June 14.
“This is a first for all of us and there wasn’t a lot of information in the report leading me to any real tangible ability to come to some sort of a conclusion,” Oliwa said.
“I’ve never seen one like this before and although I believe it’s a very attractive looking building, I think it’s really cool and funky, I just don’t know what the implications would be to allow us to move ahead at this time…I’d like to gather a bit more information on it. I think it’s worth the time.”
Coun. Mayco Noel agreed.
“The big one is the mobile vending,” he said. “Is it in fact mobile? I wouldn’t describe it as mobile…I think we need to look into that a bit more. You just can’t go up to it and pick it up and move it everyday, so what should it be called?”
Coun. Sally Mole liked the project but agreed council needed to research the consequences of approving it.
“I think the building is funky and cool but I wonder about the mobile thing and I also worry about setting a precedent,” she said. “I’m supportive of the entrepreneurship of it but I would like more information so we can make an informed decision.”
Council directed staff to submit another report to council focusing on the mobile aspect of the structure, its taxation implications and how it would fit into the building code.