South Bruce Peninsula has given approval for three food trucks to operate in Sauble Beach, Hepworth and Wiarton this summer.
On Tuesday, the town accepted three food truck proposals to operate on municipal property for a one-year trial period beginning this summer.
“Three council terms in a row has dealt with the food truck issue and so I am very happy that this council can see the need for the food trucks and the community’s desire to have them,” Mayor Janice Jackson said. “I am really pleased.”
The three trucks being permitted to operate from June to September are Mr. Khan’s Gyro and Fish Corner at Sauble Beach’s 6th Street washrooms, Sharif Raham Curry House at the Hepworth Visitor Centre and Baywatch Catering Service, serving food including hotdogs and hamburgers, at Wiarton’s Bluewater Park.
The town had compiled a list of six suggested sites for food trucks. Along with the locations where the trucks will be located this summer were Howdenvale Beach, Red Bay Beach, and Oliphant Landing.
The town conducted a survey through the “Open Mic” platform on its website for two weeks in April. A total of 644 respondents completed the survey, with just over 75 per cent in favour of the trucks.
Just under 92 per cent of respondents indicated they were seasonal or full-time residents, while 11 per cent indicated they were business owners.
Of a total of 71 business owners that responded, 70 per cent indicated they were in favour of food trucks, with 45 per cent supporting them throughout the town and 25 per cent supporting them in specific locations.
Some have spoken out against allowing food trucks in the community.
Tom LaForme of Beachside Take-out posted “Say no to food trucks” signs outside his business, while Bev Buckton of the Sauble Beach Chamber of Commerce also expressed concerns about how the trucks would impact existing businesses.
Jackson said an internal survey by the Sauble chamber showed that businesses were split over having the trucks in the community, with 50.5 per cent in favour and 49.5 per cent opposed.
“There was substantial support right across the entire municipality,” said Jackson.
In a report to council on Tuesday, Buckton said retail transactions have dropped at the beach in the past 15 years. Businesses are still feeling the effects of the 2008 recession and paid parking continues to affect consumer spending, it said in the report.
Some of the challenges facing the restaurants at the beach are a short season of busy weekends, but plentiful dining options from Sunday to Friday, and an area that is dependent on the weather, it said in Buckton’s report.
Jackson said she thinks there are enough customers to go around with long lineups at the food vendors at times last summer, specifically at Sauble.
“I think the biggest concern for the community was there were no food offerings at all between Dobson’s Crowd Inn and the river and the Kit-Wat Motel,” said Jackson. “There is a coffee shop that serves pastries, but there is no other food available and that is a three-kilometre stretch of beach.”
The trucks must remain stationary and the food operators have to pay licencing fees and leases.
Jackson said the town will receive $32,000 in revenue from having the trucks in the municipality this summer.
So far the trucks are just being permitted on municipal property, but if the trial is successful, council could consider a bylaw to allow them on private property, she said.