By Korie Marshall
David Grant has been collecting signatures to take to Valemount Council with the hope he can show the majority of the community supports his mobile business being in the downtown core. Right now, his business is shut down again because the Village received a complaint.
The Village established a temporary bylaw last summer to allow Grant to run a food vending truck within the village limits, but the temporary bylaw ran out at the end of 2013. The issue of allowing mobile or street vendors has been discussed by the Village’s new Advisory Planning Commission, but a new permanent bylaw has not yet made it through the required readings, although an original extension to the temporary bylaw did.
Grant says he has over $80,000 invested in the business, and although he has a strong following from customers, he feels negative comments from a few people have been enough to shut the Funky Goat Eatery down.
“I’m running a restaurant – it’s just I have wheels,” says Grant. He’s seen four other businesses successfully open in Valemount in the time he has been trying, and he is frustrated by hurtles and roadblocks he keeps running into.
The latest one is a noise complaint.
Grant did receive noise complaints when he first opened at the Valemount Farmers Market last summer, but the Village allowed him to install a power outlet behind the Visitor Centre, at his own expense.
“But the highway spot is a dead zone in the winter,” he says.
Grant has spoken to both Council and the Advisory Planning Commission about his desire to try out different spots, and both have recognized that he is essentially testing the bylaw for the Village, to see what works and what doesn’t. He has tried a number of other spots throughout the fall and early winter, but has run into complaints which not only stopped his business temporarily, but cost him the food product he had prepared.
Most recently, Grant got permission from the owners of a vacant lot on the corner of 5th Ave and Cedar St. to set up his truck there, and he’s been trying to open three days a week, from about noon to 8:00 pm or so. But he says a nearby resident complained about the noise from his generator.
He says he hasn’t gotten anything official from the Village, but they have notified him they’ve gotten a noise complaint and asked him to stop running while the new bylaw goes through Council, which could potentially take two months or more. He says he’s been told the level of noise in the bylaw is subjective, in other words, it’s not a fixed decibel level.
In the meantime, Grant is working on some possible solutions to the noise problem, but he estimates these solutions will cost him $5,000 – 10,000. With mounting expenses and losses because he can’t open, he says he can no longer afford a big investment, and it is causing him and his young family mental strain as well as financial. He says he’s starting to feel the village’s motto should be “Let the mountains move you… right on out of here,” because of what he sees is a small group of businesses and residents that don’t want to see other businesses develop.
The Village’s new permanent bylaw for mobile and street vendors was expected to go to first reading at Council on Jan. 28. Grant wasn’t sure if his petition would make it on to the agenda, but he’d collected over 200 signatures, and was planning to collect more until noon on Tuesday, and bring them to the Council meeting. A number of other businesses in the community had copies of the petition and were collecting signatures for him as well.