Street-vendors struggle in Coquitlam (2 of 2)

The regulations and restrictions put on mobile vendors in Coquitlam were tough on his business, Coutu said.

Vendors are restricted by location and operating times, and This Little Piggy Catering was only licenced to operate in front of Douglas College.

Coutu said it was a good location, but being constrained to one location limited the amount of business he could do.

VendorMap

Coquitlam street-vendor licence locations. Interactive map here.

“[After school hours] it was pretty much a dead spot, and I couldn’t go anywhere else. So it kind of affects being able to do business when you want to do business.” Coutu said.

In late September 2014, Coquitlam staff made a recommendation to council for a street-vending bylaw amendment.

Many councillours voiced concern about mobile vending locations, and particularly for putting stress on restaurants and businesses that pay high rent and property taxes.

Restaurant complaints was one of Councillor Craig Hodges bigger concerns with mobile vending.

“We have to make sure that we don’t create an unlevel playing field,” he said, “I think there’s a role for [street vending], we just have to make sure that we find the right spot.”

But Councilor Terry O’Neill said he had not heard of any complaints from existing businesses during the program.

“It’s not a very business friendly thing for a community that’s supposed to be business friendly,” he said.

O’Neill doesn’t see street vendor customers as a lost customer for existing business, and instead as a new opportunity in a growing business.

James and Katie Coutu were Coquitlam's first food truck, but aren't  currently operating in the city.

James and Katie Coutu were Coquitlam’s first food truck, but aren’t currently operating in the city (Tri-City News).

Coutu said that he feels mobile vending is more of a threat to fast food than to sit-down restaurants.

“They’re not going to go to a food truck if they want to sit down, if they’re looking for something on the go then they will come to us.”

Only one of the four street-vending licences in Coquitlam was renewed this year. Coutu did not renew his license to operate in Coquitlam.

“Increased regulations in Coquitlam and prices for Coquitlam were too expensive in comparison to other places, they’re way higher,” he said.

This Little Piggy Catering is currently licensed in Port Moody, and while Coutu said he would like to operate in Coquitlam again, he said it will depend on what regulations are put in place.

 

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