The City of Parksville may need to think outside the box as it ponders lease arrangements to replace the now-defunct concession with food-truck pads in Community Park, says a local food truck owner.
Extreme Eatz owner Mark Chandler said food trucks are mobile by nature and many need to follow festivals and do private catering to make ends meet.
“More and more, trucks are getting into events and catering,” said Chandler, the driving force behind the fledgling Vancouver Island Food Trucks Association. “When you can do both, the truck really pays.”
In June of last year, city council passed a motion to spend $290,000 to renovate and convert the existing concession to washrooms and change stalls only, and to build pads for lease to mobile food vendors. The concession’s lease in previous years called on it to operate seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., from May Long Weekend to Thanksgiving.
With that season starting in about four months, the city has yet to call for proposals from food truck vendors and construction hasn’t started on the washroom facility or the pads.
“We’re trying to meet, best we can, the summer expectations for Community Park,” Mike Squire, the city’s director of operations, said this week. “We are just finalizing the drawings to get the building permit.”
Timing questions aside, the city may have to come up with a unique arrangement with mobile food vendors if it expects to have those new pads occupied all summer.
“I think there are a fair amount of questions on how it will work,” said Chandler. “I think if they had a rotation of six-eight trucks through there it would allow flexibility for the operation. It would definitely make sense to have flexibility so the trucks aren’t stuck to one location for the entire contract period.”
Chandler also said the rotation of a number of trucks through the pads every day would grow more businesses and provide the public with more variety.
The city is also expected to include language about healthy food choices in its call for proposals for mobile vendors. That’s not something that scares the food truck industry, said Chandler, although he admits not all food-truck choices are on anyone’s top 10 healthy meal options.
“There should be healthy choices no matter what food is being offered,” said Chandler. “What a food truck experience is, in my eyes, is to go out of the box. A food truck experience is a treat. Maybe you just have to go to the gym an extra day.”