Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Petition launched to help save mobile food vendors operating along Dallas Road


A petition launched four weeks ago calling on the City of Victoria to extend the ‘Build Back Victoria’ project which is set to expire on March 31st.

The project allowed for mobile food and beverage vendors to set up shop around Victoria at 12 city owned locations, so long as they had all necessary certifications, permits and insurance in order. 

Many of those 12 locations are located along Dallas Road overlooking the ocean where hot dog, coffee and ice cream carts and trucks set up to serve hundreds of people while out for a walk over the last three years. 

Build Back Victoria was initially started in 2020 to allow for Victoria residents to have some semblance of normalcy during the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic by having the ability to go out and have a bite to eat and a drink while social distancing outdoors. 

A big part of Build Back Victoria was allowing businesses to install makeshift patios to allow customers to socially distance. The mobile food carts were lumped in with this project initially but have now slipped through the cracks and have been left without many options. 

Now that the worst of the pandemic is a thing of the past, Build Back Victoria’s end date of March 31st is almost upon the businesses that have been thriving as part of the project.

At least six businesses including the newest addition, Off-Grid Camper Cafe, have become integral parts of Victorians’ lives will soon have to cease operations in the way they have established themselves. 

The Off-Grid Camper Cafe only got its start in March and already has to cease operations at Clover Point as per current bylaws in place.

“The City of Victoria has embraced the models of ‘walkable neighbourhoods’ and ‘15-minute neighbourhoods’ as seen with recent traffic diverting and calming measures,” said Shawn Fitzgerald who started the online petition and participated in Build Back Victoria as a street vendor. 

“The new mayor and city council speak of being a ‘green council’ and eco-focused. If they truly are that, then they should zone a selection of spots for mobile food vendors who can serve the walking community.” 

Fitzgerald believes that street vendors only add to the vibrancy of Victoria and create revenue streams for small businesses. He is asking city council to make amendments to the bylaw and allow controlled street vending in specified areas of Victoria on behalf of all the vendors affected.

The Build Back Victoria projects assets which include temporary patios and the mobile vendor permits were discussed on March 16th in a city council meeting. Most of the discussion was in regards to patios using any ‘boulevard’ space. 

Victoria’s city council won’t be meeting again until April 6th, which is the earliest the issue will be able to be discussed further. 

City Councillor Matt Dell doesn’t want to see these vendors left without any options to set up shop for too long and hopes council can get an extension approved asap in a safe and prosperous way. 

“Mobile street vendors and businesses are a great addition to our city and I’ve heard from many people who really appreciate the vibrancy and food services they bring to the city,” Dell told Victoria Buzz. 

“The hot dogs and coffee on Dallas Road are a nice addition and always busy. As with everything, it’s important to ensure there are clear regulations in place to make sure the vendors operate safely.”

As of this publication, the petition has reached over 720 of 1,000 signatures and is on city staff’s radar because of how important these businesses have become to many Victoria residents. 

Following March 31st, mobile vendors will have to apply for separate temporary permits which will greatly limit the possibilities of where they operate.

Curtis Blandy

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