Business bylaw seeks to remove red tape for food trucks, councillors ask what to do about buskers

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Town to remove red tape for food trucks, council debates busker business licence which prompts motion from Nagel

A nearly two-year-long food truck fiasco may be coming to a close, following second reading of the new business licence bylaw at Monday night council.

The matter failed to receive unanimous consent with a 5-3 vote, with Couns. Marni Fedeyko, Morgan Nagel and Pat Wilson voting against; therefore, it will return for debate at the May 28 council.

At this time, it is anticipated some of the grey areas regarding small, cash-based earners will be hashed out.

Council was favourable that the new bylaw is looking to slash red tape for mobile vending operators but remained mixed on how buskers and minors with cash-based businesses like lawn cutting should be treated – the latter of which prompted Coun. Morgan Nagel to put forward a motion.

“I’m just fundamentally opposed to the idea that if someone wants to whip out a guitar and play they have to register with the government … it’s just ridiculous to me,” said Nagel, whose coming motion looks to exempt small-scale, cash-based businesses from the business licence bylaw.

Council spent considerable time voting on the merits of whether or not buskers and street entertainers should have to pay an annual licensing fee of $80, eventually settling on omitting the fee but maintaining that those who fall under this category should still register with the town for tracking purposes.

Mike Korman, manager of economic development for the town, is hopeful that council will pass the bylaw at the next meeting, where further amendments could come forward once passed – either through Nagel’s motion or as council sees fit.

“Do we find ways to alleviate or exempt people of a certain age or who only earn a certain amount … where is the line drawn?” said Korman, adding that he looks to direction from council on these “grey areas.”

Korman stressed that while the town should not make earning pocket money for struggling musicians or ambitious kids onerous, there needs to be clear boundaries on what are nominal earnings versus a profitable business.

Canmore has an exemption for buskers in their business license bylaw, whereas larger centres such as Calgary and Edmonton require licenses.

“I see value in creating a list of buskers to utilize for their benefit,” said Mayor Jeff Genung, adding that it could be helpful to budding entrepreneurs to be on an email list and stay apprised of upcoming events in town they may wish to participate in.

“My hope is that it’s for the good – it’s not for clamping down or else we will have to revisit it.”

Brian Gebbie is back on the street this season with his summer street eats cooked up inside his Awko Taco food truck.

Gebbie and Darcy Scott of Grilled are the two staple, Cochrane-based operators who have been on board since the town first piloted trucks – both of whom Korman has tipped his hat in acknowledgment of their patience and participation over the last two years since the trucks hit the streets and pilot rules underwent often frustrating changes such as restrictive parking and costly set-up fees.

“It’s a work-in-progress and it’s not going to happen overnight,” said Gebbie. “As long as they keep letting me run, I’m happy.”

Gebbie confirmed he is happy to see red tape axed and simplicity embraced – including the one-time development permit and the allowance of trucks to park spring through fall on their personal driveways (even though his truck is too large for his driveway and has to be parked on a gravel parking pad beside his garage).

The 25-metre setback from brick and mortar businesses remains – something Korman stressed is not meant to target food trucks, but to even the playing field for all brick and mortar businesses with respect to competition in mobile vendor format.

Cochrane-based mobile vendors are now required to pay a home-based business license fee of $80/year or $48/three months. They are also required to have a fire inspection.

Out-of-town mobile vendors who wish to park on public property must pay either an annual licensing fee of $320/year or $96/three months; if these proprietors have a recent, valid fire inspection certificate they may not have to obtain a Cochrane fire inspection.

Those who are attending specific events, with written consent by the event organizer, are not required to purchase a business license in an effort to grow Cochrane’s appeal as a growing destination for events and celebrations.

Follow Awko Taco and Grilled on Facebook.

To learn more visit cochrane.ca.

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Lindsay Seewalt

Lindsay is a senior Eagle reporter who has transformed her penchant for storytelling into the craft of writing. She has a knack for getting the scoop on stories and is a strong interviewer. The U of C and MRU English/Journalism graduate is committed to telling every story through a new lens, from a fresh perspective. Currently, her focus is on news and politics reporting, including town hall. She has a passion for providing a platform for underdogs, grassroots movements and those who have the courage to put themselves out there. She bases the strength of her stories on the depth of her connection with her interviewee, which is best done over too much coffee.