June 19, 2015 - 8:00 PM
KAMLOOPS – While it might be a fun show to watch on the Food Network, the food truck wars playing out on the streets of downtown Kamloops are a little different.
These ‘wars’ have created a spitting match between the owner of Eats Amore and the city, with seemingly a new dramatic chapter each week.
Mikey Wheeler-Johnson of Eats Amore received another visit from inspectors earlier this week. Wheeler-Johnson was in his usual downtown location; the Impark lot beside the Kamloops Inn on Victoria Street. But because of parked cars he was closer to the street than permitted under the bylaw.
The ongoing issue with food trucks has been the proximity to brick and mortar restaurants. The bylaw states that trucks need to be 50 metres away from the door of an establishment, but how these measurement are made has been part of the fight between Wheeler-Johnson and the city.
Property inspector Dave Jones has visited the Eats Amore truck in the past. He answered the newest complaint, although he could not say who it was from, and deemed it valid. This leads to an investigation of the complaint.
Wheeler-Johnson says he didn't have a choice but to park further up the lot.
"All the other spots at the back of lot were occupied. So if I park right at the very back, I block all users from entering or exiting that lot," he says, adding he's not even sure where the complaint may have come from. "The bylaw officer... stated that we were to close to Carlos O's, which is a liquor primary so it doesn't count, the food court, which is more than 50 metres away, and the Plaza, which is also more than 50 m away."
Bylaw enforcement is complaint driven, officers do not carry out investigations without having been contacted first, Jones says.
Eats Amore has not been the only offending truck, but all the complaints have come when trucks are parked downtown. Jones believes it is because of the greater volume of restaurants located within a closer proximity.
“I have no idea of other locations or of where other trucks are,” Jones says, adding “Realistically there are only two empty parking lots to park in the downtown area that would benefit any food truck.”
Trucks are not allowed to park on city streets and must leave downtown locations before 6 p.m.
With the exception of Eats Amore, other food truck complaints have not bee considered valid. Jones notes there was no need to make contact with the other owners and as a result he does not recall the names of the other trucks listed in the complaints.
Jones prefers to first educate people about the rules, but he does have a number of methods he can use to enforce bylaws including verbal and written warnings or fines up to $1000.
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