Food truck gets exemption, town to examine bylaw

 

By Ron Giofu

A local food truck operator is getting relief from a licensing bylaw pertaining to refreshment vehicles with the town to further examine that bylaw.

Bill Deslippe, owner of Smashed Apple Gourmet Catering, will be allowed to operate his food truck within 25 metres of other restaurants this year, down from the 200 metres the bylaw states. The town will look at lowering that limit for others, likely on a case-by-case basis, but the full bylaw will come back later this year for review.

Deslippe appeared before town council April 9 asking for relief from the bylaw. He said his intention is to operate his food truck one day per week as the catering end of his business keeps him busy the other days of the week. He is looking for a space, likely on Sandwich St. S., and has had discussions about locating his truck in existing store parking lots.

“We all know 200 metres is pretty far,” he said, referring to the existing bylaw. “I’m just asking for a shorter distance.”

Manager of licensing services Nicole Rubli said a preliminary look at bylaws from other municipalities show anywhere from 25-250 metres as setbacks.

Councillor Jason Lavigne, a former restaurant owner himself, said Smashed Apple is “wildly popular” and that Deslippe is “really well established” within Essex County. Lavigne said that Deslippe has set up shop in places like Toddy Jones Park and he hasn’t heard of one complaint.

Rubli did note she has heard from businesses about food trucks not abiding by setback requirements, however.

Deslippe told council that while he is shutting down his storefront on Sandwich St. S., he will continue catering, operating the food truck and will also launch a YouTube channel to promote the Smashed Apple brand as well as the town. He added that he wants to push local tourism and CAO John Miceli encouraged town council to take a full look at the bylaw so that tourism opportunities could be explored.

Deslippe added that competition is great and drives people to the streets, something Councillor Leo Meloche agreed with.

“Competition is not a bad thing. Competition is a good thing,” said Meloche. “People love options.”

The vote to allow the exemption and to also further study the bylaw passed by a 5-1 recorded vote. Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale and councillors Lavigne, Meloche, Rick Fryer and Joan Courtney were in favour while Councillor Diane Pouget was opposed. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo was absent.

Pouget said she wants Deslippe to succeed, but she was concerned about other restaurants, particularly if an exemption was passed on short notice.

“The problem is I don’t want to blindside other restaurants,” she said.

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