Mobile food trucks hot issue in Liverpool

Barb McKenna barb.mckenna@tc.tc
Published on June 14, 2016

Andrew Bursey, general manager of Dixie Lee Fried Chicken in Liverpool, and his father, business owner David Bursey, want the Region of Queens Municipality to tighten up rules on mobile food trucks.

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LIVERPOOL - Until last year, mobile food trucks in Liverpool were a non-issue, since there were none. But this year, they are becoming an increasing source of friction between restaurant owners and council.

 Last year, Liverpool had only one mobile food truck. Pierre Losier opened DatzaWrap Food Truck on the waterfront. This year, two more food trucks have set up downtown, in parking spaces by the Visitor Information Centre on Liverpool’s waterfront.

 Andrew Bursey, general manger of Dixie Lee Fried Chicken, made a presentation to the Region of Queens Municipality today asking for changes to be made in the region’s bylaw. He was joined by other business owners, including Lane’s Privateer Inn and The Dancing Chicken.

 The problem is the cost of doing business.

 Under Liverpool’s present vending bylaw, a mobile food truck owner pays only ten dollars a year for a licence, while restaurant owners pay thousands of dollars in property taxes. Mobile food trucks set up on a region-owned parking space, rent-free.

 Bursey and his father, David Bursey, who owns Dixie Lee Fried Chicken on Main Street, told council he and other brick and mortar food operators are all in favour of competition, but he said it must be fair.

 “Capitalism can only work when everyone plays by the same rules on an open and even playing field,” Andrew Bursey told council.

 “Mobile vendors who set up at the (visitor information centre) have an unfair advantage to conduct their business in prime waterfront locations without paying commercial property tax or rent of any kind.”

 Bursey first asked for a ban on mobile food trucks – something the Town of Wolfville has done -  but later told reporters he has changed his mind, and only wants a level playing field.

 “It’s the increasing number of food trucks and their location specifically, and their location, they’re very prominent on the waterfront right now,” Bursey said.

 Pierre Losier of DatzaWrap was also at the meeting, but was not invited to make a presentation to council. He told reporters he is in favour of a review of the bylaw.

 The ten dollar annual fee was implemented in 2014, before food trucks came to town, and was meant to apply to street vendors. Losier says he has no issue with the ten dollar fee being raised, as long as he gets value from it.

 “I’m not surprised when the new genre of business comes to an area that there will be some discussions, it is good it is healthy,” he says. “This is how does this county perceive new business. What do the existing businesses perceive competition in a different model. I believe protectionism does not work.”

 At the end, council agreed to review and amend the bylaw, with input from food truck operators and restaurants – with a possible permanent location for mobile food trucks and an increase in the annual fee.  It expects to have the review completed by September.