A proposed downtown mobile canteen that would serve liquor is effectively “dead in the water” after council rejected the project Monday night, says one of its co-owners.
Mike Wasnidge, co-owner of Nimrods’, said he was surprised and heartbroken by council’s vote to reject the proposal.
The vote came after a public meeting which saw strong public support behind the proposal, which also carried planning board’s recommendation for approval.
Council heard that, following the public input meeting, city police and the fire department raised safety concerns about the location and the proposal to keep part of the establishment open until 3 a.m.
Although planning staff suggested council approve the project with a development agreement for the establishment to close at midnight, as well as any conditions councillors deemed necessary, council voted unanimously to reject it.
“We had all the support of the community… to find out now there are safety concerns, in the final hour, it just seems like an unfair process,” said Wasnidge, adding that his attempts to reach city police to discuss possible safety issues went unanswered. “We would have addressed safety concerns.
“I’m at a loss for words. It’s so disheartening.”
The resolution was for council allow several exemptions for the canteen at 183 Great George Street including:
- To allow sale of alcohol within a mobile canteen,
- To allow the mobile canteen to operate from April 1 to Oct. 31 annually; and
- To utilize a container to contain washroom facilities.
- There were also site specific exemptions for a fence variance and front yard setback.
Coun. Greg Rivard, who chairs planning board, was not present for the vote.
Wasnidge said the only concern brought up during the public input meeting was how the project would affect nearby businesses.
With the proposed lot sitting between Cedar’s Eatery and the Old Triangle, Coun. Terry MacLeod reiterated his concerns Monday on how the canteen would affect existing businesses.
“I can’t see where this is helping the existing businesses. There are a lot of vacant properties in the area and I just feel that this is kind of going to hamper the other businesses there tremendously,” said MacLeod.
Wasnidge said his hope was to collaborate with those businesses to improve the area’s vibrancy.
“We were willing to do anything we could to show people that we would be a team player,” said Wasnidge.
Apart from serving liquor, the establishment would be unique for a food truck as it would have included fencing and indoor washrooms to create the atmosphere of an outdoor restaurant.
Prior to the vote being called, Coun. Mitch Tweel said he hoped the owners would not be discouraged if the application was rejected and advised them to work with city staff to find a suitable location.
“We want him to be successful. There are a number of issues associated with this particular lot, and it’s a tough decision,” said Tweel. “There’s an opportunity to work with this young gentleman… we’re here to come up with workable solutions.”
Because it was rejected at the council level, the business cannot make the same application for the property for a year.
Wasnidge said he’s not sure how the decision will affect Nimrods’, which is currently operating at 47 St. Peters Rd.
He said they will now go back to the drawing board.
“And figure out what our next step is. We’re all just kind of heartbroken at this point.”
Getting the green light
Although the mobile canteen, Nimrods’, will not operate downtown this summer, there will be plenty of places to enjoy an outdoor meal.
Council gave permission during Monday’s meeting to allow six Charlottetown restaurants to operate outdoor patios until the end of the 2021 season, subject to annual permit applications.
Council voted unanimously to provide Brits Fish and Chips, Piatto Neapolitan Pizza, Casa Mia Restaurant, Sim’s Corner Steakhouse, Merchantman Pub and Terra Rouge Bistro with space to operate an outdoor patio in front of the establishments.
In total, the outdoor patios will take up 16 parking spaces.
Sim’s Corner Steakhouse was allowed to have an outdoor patio at four spaces, two on Sydney Street and two on Queen Street, while Merchantman Pub and Casa Misa will each have three parking spaces. The other restaurants were each allotted two spaces.
Following the vote, Mayor Philip Brown recalled being on council when the first outdoor patio, located in front of St. James Gate, was approved and the controversy attached to it.
“Remember the opposition? Now we’re approving five or six,” said Brown, while noting the decks approved during Monday’s meeting were previously in operation.