Texas BBQ could lose licence

Debate over what food option should be available on Qualicum Beach widens to include health concerns, council and the chamber of commerce

A Texas barbecue may not be welcome on Qualicum Beach.

Town council will decide July 8 whether to cancel the business licence of AA Catering, doing business as the Texas BBQ currently near the tourism information centre.

Originally, AA Catering was granted a business licence by the town to operate their mobile business at the Brant viewing station. There was no power available at that location, generators are not permitted by the town, so the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce offered a spot near, and electricity from, its tourism information building near the foot of Memorial Avenue.

That became an issue for the town when residents just across the highway from the beach said they were being inundated with the smoke and smells of the Mesquite-burning business.

One resident, who said she lived 50 feet from where the barbecue was operating, said in a letter to the town fumes from the Texas BBQ “permeates our home.”

“My husband is currently under doctors’ care for lung cancer,” Blanche Barrett wrote. “He had surgery 19 months ago. His health is compromised.”

The owners of the Beach Hut business cried foul too, citing concerns about competition. There is nothing in the town’s lease with the owners of the Beach Hut — a $1/year lease that doesn’t expire until 2018 — regarding proximity or competition.

It’s also not clear what legal standing the town has — or if it even needs a reason — to cancel the business licence. The town has no bylaw regarding smoke-generating appliances. Town officials say they may have to use provisions of the nuisance bylaw to find some reason to cancel the licence.

The chamber of commerce weighed in, with CEO Evelyn Clark writing a letter to the town saying it “fully supports” having the Texas BBQ on the beach this summer. Clark said the business is a member in good standing with the chamber and the barbecue would be good there “to both serve our visitors and offer a variety of food choices for people who may be visiting for more than one day.”

In their letter to the town, the owner of the Beach Hut business pointed to how much money they have sunk into the business and asked council to stop all mobile vending in their vicinity, specifically from the Captain’s Inn to the bottom of Bay Road, essentially the length of Qualicum Beach, except for the areas around the tourism information building.

“Offering a mobile vendor in this vicinity is an alternative, deterrent and competition to our service,” wrote Lana Tryon. “I am deeply shocked, hurt and saddened that after all these years of working together that our landlord . . . would allow competition/alternative/threat to its own services.”

The owners of the Texas BBQ also sent a letter to the town, along with 140 signatures on a petition they said they collected in two hours.

“Our reputation for good, quality food has spread and (we) have had many, many people approach us on the beach saying how happy (they were) that they now have a choice of eateries on the beach,” said the letter written by Lynn Silbernagel and Rick Allen. “We followed all directions given to us from the Town of Qualicum. (We) have happily moved so as not to upset residents in our first spot . . . we cannot return to the Parksville visitors’ centre. They are upset that we moved our business to Qualicum Beach.”

Town council met Wednesday to discuss the issue and instructed staff to issue a notice to Texas BBQ that their licence may be cancelled after the July 8 regular council meeting.

“We’re kind of caught between a rock and a hard place and I do hold council responsible for that,” Coun. Mary Brouilette said after Wednesday’s meeting. Brouilette said the smoke, and not the concerns about competition, is what may force council to cancel the licence.

“It’s not that we don’t want the business there,” said Brouilette. “This is not about competition. We want things on the beach. It’s not my motivation to stop competition.”

“And we need a proper (smoke) bylaw.”

Council is expected to make a decision July 8 and Texas BBQ can continue operating until they hear otherwise. Council also instructed staff to come up with a bylaw related to smoke-generating appliances.