District of Houston municipal office and council chambers.

Mobile vendor business clarification

According to a report presented at the District of Houston council meeting on July 4, a request was recently received from an local business owner asking to operate in Steelhead Park as a mobile vendor and to connect to hydro, water, and sanitary sewer.

District staff brought the report to council to clarify the meaning of ‘mobile vendor’ within the meaning of the business license bylaw.

“Under the current language of the bylaw, a mobile vendor is defined as ‘any person who from a mobile vehicle sells or offers for sale goods… but does not include a restaurant…’ meaning that any person wishing to operate as a mobile vendor must operate from a suitable motor vehicle or a trailer,” said Gerald Pinchbeck, Corporate Service Officer for the District of Houston.

The report also indicated that in the bylaw section 4.1 states that mobile vendors can be located in Jamie Baxter, Steelhead, or in select areas of Four Seasons parks, or in another area as part of a special event.

The vendor must sign a facility use agreement for the location, provide a copy of their commercial liability insurance and automobile insurance, the vendors are limited to a maximum area of 25 square meters, and must be staffed at all times or removed from the location.

“The current proposal was for a unit with no foundation but fixed to water, electrical, and sewer services which is not permitted by bylaw,” said Pinchbeck.

“Does the actual bylaw specify wheels? Lots of communities have mobile vending that are there for a summer and then are gone,” asked counsellor Jonathan Van Barneveld.

“The bylaw defines mobile vendor as any person who through a vehicle operates or sells good, so that does mean that they do have to be on wheels,” said Pinchbeck.

“Based on the definition of restaurant, does that mean no food truck could come to town?” asked counsellor van Barneveld.

“I would have to look at that based on the definition of restaurant in our bylaw,” said Pinchbeck.

Pinchbeck searched through the business and development bylaw definitions but could find no definition for restaurant outlined.

“As far as the bylaw is concerned right now, I have to investigate this matter further before I can provide an answer to council’s question,” said Pinchbeck.

“While investigating that, could we also look at what other towns have? Because a lot of other towns have food trucks and I want to make sure that it is easy for somebody to be able to go down this road and to set up a venue in town without going through too much red tape,” said Van Barneveld.

Houston council passed a motion to the effect of Van Barneveld’s request. The report was received and tabled until district staff returned with more information.