An attempt by the Town of Qualicum Beach to create a variety of food concessions at the beach has started a war.
The operators of The Beach Hut concession on the Qualicum Beach waterfront want the owners, the Town of Qualicum Beach, to stop competition from a mobile vendor, A.A. Catering and Texas Barbecue.
Beach Hut lessees John and Lana Tryon told council in a letter Wednesday they want mobile vendors banned from the beach boardwalk from the Captain's Inn to the bottom of Bay Road.
In the letter, Lana Tryon says they have leased the property from the town since 2003 at $333 a month and have spent $140,000 on improvements. (The town lease agreement says the rent is $1 for the life of the agreement.) There's nothing in the lease about limiting competition but they just assumed the town wouldn't allow competition with "their own concession/restaurant," she said. "Offering a mobile vendor in this vicinity is an alternative, deterrent and competition to our service. We feel that this is a conflict of interest and a nuisance."
Tryon says she and John aren't opposed to competition "along outer parts of the boardwalk" but don't want "direct competition."
"I am deeply shocked, hurt and saddened," she said, "that after all these years of working together that our landlord, the Town of QB, would allow competition, alternative, threat to its own services."
Mobile vendors must be issued a business licence from the town. Rick Allen, who operates A.A.
Catering and Texas Barbecue with Lynn Silbernagel, says the town advertised for mobile vendors on the beach, he and Lynn applied, were issued a licence and were placed near the Visitor Information Centre at an end of the beach far from The Beach Hut.
However, after three days people in an apartment building across the street complained of the smell from the barbecue's smoker, so they were moved along the beach to within 50 feet of The Beach Hut. "They came over and welcomed us and told us how great it was that we were down there," he said. He and Lynn were doing a brisk business, as they had previously at the Parksville Visitor Information Centre, but The Beach Hut started to complain, he said, posting signs about "unfair competition."
"I think their problem is they don't have an exclusivity clause," Allen said. "I really have no sympathy for them," he said. "I've lived in this town for 25 years and I'm really angry that we have to defend our business in front of council.
"I love competition," he said, and instead of supporting "a sweetheart deal" with The Beach Hut, the town should be encouraging more mobile vendors: "It's part of the genre of the beach.
"I just want to be able to vend in my own town," Allen said. "I want to be at peace with my neighbours and I want to earn a living."
He and Lynn started a petition of support and had more than 140 names in two hours, he said. The petition was presented to a special meeting of council Wednesday, along with letters mainly objecting to the smoke from the Texas Barbecue.
"My wife had an asthmatic attack and almost passed out as we were engulfed in a cloud of toxic fumes that followed us as we hurried down the seafront to escape," wrote John Jackson, of Qualicum Beach. "Please! Please! Relocate or get rid of this offensive object from our beachfront."
Butch Davis, of Qualicum Beach, said, "I don't appreciate having to ride my bike through it." It's a "stink pot," wrote residents Andrea and Barrie Thorley. Eva Walsh wondered, "why the town council would allow such a polluter to take up parking spaces that I and others use."
However, Evelyn Clark, president of the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce, said the Chamber "fully supports having the food truck down at the beach this summer."
She suggested moving it to across from the Old Dutch Inn, now under construction, somewhere "as close to the Visitor Information Centre as possible." Council voted Wednesday to consider revoking Texas Barbecue's licence at its meeting July 8. It also decided that no further mobile vending licences will be issued this year and directed staff to prepare regulations for mobile vendors.
Coun. Mary Brouilette called it "an unfortunate situation."
Council's decision to move Texas Barbecue from its original location near the Brant Viewing Area was "a bit of a knee-jerk reaction" to complaints, she said, and now council is doing "a bit of backpedalling."
[BRIAN WILFORD PHOTO] / Lynn Silbernagel, of A.A. Catering and Texas Barbecue, was gathering support and signatures on a petition at her mobile unit's location on the Qualicum Beach waterfront Tuesday.; / The Beach Hut (left) and the Texas Barbecue truck are just a few parking spaces apart on the Qualicum Beach waterfront.;
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