Algonquin Café will have to wait while council rethinks its food truck policy

You could be forgiven if you thought the question of where to allow food trucks seemed like a lot of smoke and mirrors during Monday’s board meeting.

Huntsville councilor Bob Stone attempted to amend a motion that appeared to specifically target Brendale Square and Café Algonquin. The amendment would have ensured that no exemptions could be granted to the current city bylaw, which allows only one food truck per property, within 300 meters of the downtown business improvement area. of Huntsville.

Stone, who sits on the BIA’s board of directors, also noted that the same amendment would not affect properties like Boston Pizza, which last year contained three food trucks, or Canvas Brewing Co., which according to he planned to have two because the city already exists. Regulation states that properties that contain a restaurant are exempt and may have multiple food trucks.

Stone’s amendment was in response to a request from the city’s chief law enforcement officer, Andrew Stillar, asking council to give him the authority to approve more than one food truck on a property, particularly at 6 John Street which is part of what is commonly referred to as Brendale Square.

Stillar noted that council had already approved more than one food truck on the same property last year when it allowed Café Algonquin to set up a food truck there next to the Thai Hut. But since occupancy permits for food trucks operate from May 1 to October 31, an authorization for 2021 would be required. He also said interest in locating a hot dog cart on the same property had been expressed by another food vendor but no official request had yet been received.

“I am concerned about our traditional restaurants open year round in the ZAC,” Stone said. “I’ve spoken to several of them over the past few days and asked the simple question: Are food trucks having an impact on your business? The answer was categorically, absolutely, yes, for lunch and probably a little for dinner.

Deputy Mayor Nancy Alcock spoke about Stone’s proposed amendment and said she didn’t think it was “a fully fair policy if approved, so I’m really unsure about it. This space [Brendale] created a bit of a buzz for people who might go for a beer at Canvas [Brewing Company] and want to eat something – it’s right there. I have spoken to a lot of people who find it to be quite a creative space. “

Councilor Tim Withey asked Stone how he came up with the 300-yard proposal.

Stone replied, “The quick answer was I threw an arbitrary 500 yards to start, and then I thought, well, maybe that’s too much. The 300 is probably a short walk from the city center.

“So if it’s a short walk from downtown, are you achieving the goal of protecting restaurants?” asked Withey. “I understand where you’re coming from with this… I’m not sure you’re doing what you want with this.”

Stone recently tried to convince the owner of the Brendale Square parking lot to rent space for BIA customers while the city center was under construction, but in the end the owner said he was not interested.

Councilor Dan Armor said he was not ready to vote on Stone’s amendment. He said he wanted to see a better staff report. “I think we’re just throwing darts here on what the 300 yards [are], and who will it affect, and how many catering trucks were installed here last year [Stone’s amendment] will affect this year… ”

Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano said last year, when council granted another occupancy permit for the Algonquin Café food truck on the Brendale property, “we looked at it pretty quickly because we had COVID case. Now we’re still dealing with COVID, but we’re also dealing with Main Street, which is completely closed for construction this year, so that could change the way we looked at things last year. But the other thing is we have a regulation in place… which says one supply vehicle per property. I think there is a different restriction if the property is owned by a restaurant. She added that she would also like to see staff write a report that would include the current bylaw so that council can determine ‘what we want to see with refueling vehicles across town.’

Others, like Councilor Dione Schumacher, have noted that while she strongly agrees with the support of local restaurants, Algonquin Café is a year-round restaurant that also has a food truck in. Brendale’s location, which is not the case with other food trucks in the area that operate only. during summer.

Councilor Withey notes that food truck owners are also local. “Also, with all due respect to the BIA, we have restaurants that are also outside of the BIA, so I think we need a full report on this whole situation,” he said. he declares. “We’re in weird times, I mean a lot of times you’d say bricks and mortar have an advantage because they have seats inside and booze sales and stuff like that, but it doesn’t ‘t is not the case now, so it is a more level playing field. , but I would like to see a more comprehensive policy that encompasses the entire municipality. After all, that’s what we stand for, not just the BIA.

In the end, the majority of councilors rejected the amendment recommended by Stone, although councilors Brian Thompson and Jonathan Wiebe supported it. Council also passed a motion asking staff to bring back a report for further discussion of the City’s current policy regarding food trucks at their meeting at the end of May.

Armor pointed out that the council is now dealing with essentially two different issues. Whether to allow another food truck (Algonquin Café’s) to operate in Brendale Square this year and how to move forward with a policy regarding food trucks in general throughout the municipality.

Councilor Jason FitzGerald brought forward a motion to allow Algonquin Café’s request to go ahead, while council holds further discussions on municipality policy in general. He said “it’s probably a fair and reasonable thing to do.”

Thompson noted that two-thirds of council are expected to vote in favor of bringing this new motion forward because it was not on the council’s agenda. Before the Algonquin Café submitted application went to a vote, Stone said, “I just want to say that as much as I want to support the Algonquin Café, and they have a brick and mortar business and it’s wonderful, we. we just ordered the staff to leave and bring back real information and now we say “well, but not this information”. If you want a full picture, then let’s get a full picture. “

FitzGerald said if this was a full application, it should be treated as such. He said the board should “be respectful of the claimant and the time no matter who the claimant was like I said I didn’t know who the claimant was before Andrew [Stillar] told us so I think it’s the right thing to do.

“It’s fair,” Terziano replied. “But our rulebook actually says we can’t have more than one person on the pitch, so we’re breaking our own rules by doing that.”

“We’re sort of going in all different directions here and I think we’re going to buckle up if we … break an existing rule,” Withey said. “As the mayor said, we are going against our own rules.”

In the end, when put to a vote, council narrowly voted against allowing the motion to allow the Algonquin Café food truck to return to the Brendale property this year to be voted on. Instead, the applicant will have to wait and see what happens when the board discusses the matter again at its May meeting. A two-thirds majority to allow the motion to be put to a vote would have required six (5.3) out of eight councilors to pass it. Councilors Alcock, Armor, FitzGerald, Schumacher and Wiebe voted in favor of allowing the motion, while Stone, Terziano, Withey and Thompson voted against.

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