UPDATE: City reverses decision on food vendors

Teresa Wright
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 Caron Prins sits at a table in front of her chip shack near Founder's Hall. Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

They say you can’t fight city hall, but two food vendors won their battle with Charlottetown city council Friday.

In a special meeting of council called Friday morning, all five city councillors in attendance voted unanimously to rescind a decision made earlier in the week to disallow two food trailers from operating in Charlottetown this summer.

Council has now issued temporary permits to both the Chip Shack on Prince Street and the Big Orange Lunchbox, which wanted to operate a food trailer on University Avenue.

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee said council is not bowing to public pressure, but rather admitting there is confusion over the issue and how it should have been dealt with.

“I think there was three different sets of rules being applied to these vending shacks,” Lee said.

He acknowledged council received a lot of feedback from the public on the issue.

“Some people will say city council caved in, I’d rather look at it as city council heard what the people had to say and we reacted and gave the citizens what they were looking for.”

Coun. Rob Lantz, chairman of city planning, said council did receive complaints about the two vendors from local restaurant owners, including in the form of a position paper from the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association. The chairman of this national association is local restaurant owner Liam Dolan.

But Lantz says these complaints were not the reason council initially denied the food vendors permits to operate this summer in Charlottetown.

“That’s been exaggerated a little bit, that kind of influence,” he said.

Council also passed a resolution Friday to review and develop policies for food trailers and vendors on private property, to be in place by March 1, 2015 – in time for next summer’s tourism season.

“There are no certain regulations that deal specifically with food trucks in the zoning and development bylaw and that’s what we need to take care of.”

Public interest in the issue exploded, especially on social media with many people expressing outrage and concern.

News stories on The Guardian’s website registered more than 100 comments each and an online petition started Thursday in support of Caron Prins, owner of the Chip Shack, garnered over 800 signatures by Friday afternoon.

Prins was elated by council's decision Friday and swamped with business from supporters all day.

“My supporters are very excited and I am so blessed to have them, and they’re coming out in truckloads to say congratulations,” Prim said, stopping to hug customers mid-interview.

“I feel extremely loved and grateful, more than anything, because I was the small guy and I didn’t really have a voice until the people backed me and then they had a voice.”

She said council was wrong to tell her she couldn’t open her business, but she is thankful the decision was reversed – thankful mainly to the Islanders who rallied around her.

“Thank you everybody out there. You did the right thing, and I’m so grateful.”

James Oja, owner of the Big Orange Lunchbox, said he too saw this as a victory for the public.

“I love how much the Island supported us in our fight,” Oja said.

“The fact that the people spoke up and said, ‘This isn’t fair, you’re doing something unjust to two business people in Charlottetown,’ and that the city listened to the people makes me respect (city council) a little more, because it means they still will take word from the citizens, which I didn’t think they would anymore.”  




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Recent comments

  • trent
    May 17, 2014 - 17:36

    Let this be a lesson, -sometimes the elite that runs this City can be put to wall. Clifford's political nose detected a bad smell., and he woofed.

  • Fed up
    May 17, 2014 - 16:32

    Good for City Council. Stood up to the Murphy's.....imagine all the money they have and they don't want small business to make a living! They are the ones who ow. Most of the downtown restaurants and not satisfied with what they haul in!

  • justin
    May 17, 2014 - 13:45

    You can bet they will shut them down next year. All this did was allow the city a year to come up with solid reason to shut these places down. They should be shut down based if nothing else on health laws and lack of washrooms.

  • just me
    May 16, 2014 - 20:16

    Hooray! I've never even tried either of these places but I will be trying both next time to im in town!

  • Perplexed
    May 16, 2014 - 19:12

    Terrific news that some of council came to their senses. However, one has to wonder about the process coming out of the Planning Committee. Seems Lantz and crew hitched their wagons to the wrong team, in spite of his tap dancing denial! Planning? Really? Sounds more like lobbying and kowtowing.

  • Little Johnny
    May 16, 2014 - 17:24

    If you would have opened a Hooters, non of this would have happened.

  • simple solution
    May 16, 2014 - 16:03

    They should have multiple vendors all set up at the waterfront ! There is plenty of parking . Its hard enough to find a spot with all the patios on the streets .

  • Fun on a Bun
    May 16, 2014 - 15:37

    I feel it's refreshing to see that once there are points to be made from every side of the issues there can be a consensus and agreements can be made that will appease all those involved. Rash decisions made from just a few respondents shouldn't sway decisions of this nature. Great to hear that the seasonal vendors will be able to contribute to the hungry in the city and be successful. The mobile food service is a cultural entity that I hope sticks around for a long time to come!

  • Chester L
    May 16, 2014 - 15:07

    This is good news, I have heard and sampled some of their wares at a recent Farm Show and others have said the same , but for what its worth should we not be careful when we label operations like this as Shacks...Vendors....I know it might sound catchy or trendy but this is a regulated food estabilishment and should not leave any perception ie run down or dodgy or less attractive ........you may want to consider, because your food is good...just a thought.;)

    • S
      May 17, 2014 - 07:40

      It's called 'The Chip Shack' . That's the name of it .

  • SlyFox
    May 16, 2014 - 15:03

    I hope the people boycott the restaurants that complained and eat at the Chip Shack or Orange LunchBox instead.If the bigger restaurants can not handle a little competition then maybe it is time they looked at their own business and see where they are failing instead of stepping on the little ones.

  • enough already
    May 16, 2014 - 14:18

    All right council let get something about the proliferation o hobos in down town. Move them out before the summer.

  • Media
    May 16, 2014 - 13:38

    The won because of the media attetion they recieved..and feed back from fellow Islanders good for them :)

  • Save Face
    May 16, 2014 - 13:01

    Admit you made a mistake and over reacted to a couple of complaints. It will appear much better than not admitting you bowed to public pressure. C'mon.

  • Joe Doe
    May 16, 2014 - 12:52


    • Truth Seeker
      Truth Seeker
      May 16, 2014 - 21:57

      I second the motion!

    • Just sumone
      May 16, 2014 - 23:14

      Yes ok John Doe ,which one are you renting? I think your referring to the TWEEL building? Nothing can be done to keep these rented without a tenant,and looking good with the drunks that roam after hours? What is your suggestion?

    • Blondie
      May 17, 2014 - 08:21

      And the corner of Prince and Grafton.7

  • Digger
    May 16, 2014 - 12:50

    I'm glad the food venders won there case it's pretty bad the city would make things hard on these business just trying to make a living because of a couple selfish business men went complaining because they thought someone might actually get ahead of them it's all about greed. I've never seen a town/city argue and bicker over such foolishness in my short time living in Charlottetown. In my point of view as long as these establishments are following the rules leave them alone it's good for the city.