Chip Shack operator plans to appeal council's decision

Chip Shack on Charlottetown waterfront and Big Orange Lunchbox told they cannot operate in capital city this summer

Dave Stewart
Published on May 14, 2014

 Caron Prins sits at a table in front of her chip shack near Founder's Hall. If several nearby restuarant operators have their way Charlottetown city council will deny Prins a permit to operate her chip shack this summer. Council has voted not to issue her a permit to operate this summer based on several comnplaints. Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

©Guardian photo by Brian McInnis

The self-proclaimed 'queen of fries' in Charlottetown is appealing city council's decision to deny her a permit to operate this summer.

Caron Prins, who operates the Chip Shack on Prince Street, between Founders' Hall and Lobster on the Wharf, said she will complete the necessary paperwork this weekend and submit it early next week.

Prins was told she has 21 days to file a request to have city council reconsider its decision to deny the permit.

"In between (now and then) I'm staying open, damned right,'' Prins told The Guardian on Wednesday. "I've had a lot of support (since the story broke).''

Prins said she's had more than one prominent business person in Charlottetown either call or show up personally to offer their support.

The city received opposition from restaurants to applications from Prins and the Big Orange Lunchbox, which wanted to operate a food trailer next to The Triangle on University Avenue. The city also received a letter from Restaurants Canada outlining concerns and strict conditions under which food truck licences should be granted.

"The guys over here at the (Lobster on the Wharf) personally came over yesterday and said it wasn't their restaurant that complained about me,'' Prins said. "I've got a lot of professional support and a lot of local support.''

Coun. Rob Lantz, chairman of planning, notes that food trucks, trailers and cars are not permitted uses in the waterfront zone and 500 lot zone in the city's zoning and development bylaw.

There are permitted locations in the downtown under the street vending bylaw, as would be the case in many other cities across North America.

"We have been using a temporary use variance to permit the Chip Shack in previous years but that clause in the bylaw is not intended to be used year after year to make exceptions,'' Lantz said. "The proper place for these operations is the street vending bylaw, like everywhere else.''

Many jurisdictions are trying to get a stronger handle on street vendors.

In Halifax, for example, food trucks operating on private property, which the Chip Shack is, are not covered by city permits. So long as the trucks meet provincial health and business regulations, the owners can make whatever agreements they can negotiate with property owners. Halifax Mayor Mike Savage says there is an appetite in the city to be more flexible with regard to food trucks but the city also needs to balance the needs of restaurants with food trucks.

In Edmonton, vendors must have a business licence, a health permit, a minimum of $2 million general liability insurance and a vending permit.

Prins said she just wants to offer locally bought food for Islanders and tourists.

"I just hope I can do that this summer so they can feel great about my fries and, hopefully, they will have a great experience here in Charlottetown,'' Prins said.