For a resort community, Sicamous could be doing more to support mobile vendors and concessions, says Dennis “the Hotdog Guy” Barbe.
The charismatic owner/operator of Hillbilly Catering can be found hawking hotdogs and other edibles down by the water at the end of Finlayson. Even while he’s preparing to open, customers are popping by to see if he’s got any dogs, and chat a bit in the process. And Barbe isn’t opposed to talking, be it about the weather, the lousy impact mosquitoes have had on business, or about Sicamous’ mobile vendor/concession bylaw and how the district handles such operations.
Barbe’s big beef, he says, has to do with the district’s lack of a specific plan for where such operations should go.
“I had the bylaw officer come over here and say to me yesterday, “You can’t park here because it’s not a park,” says Barbe. “I said, ‘Well, where does it fall under? And he said, well, he didn’t really know. So I said, as a bylaw officer, you don’t really know where I am or what I’m doing. I’ve paid my permits, I’ve done all this stuff, everything necessary to do the job. And they had no plan in place, that’s the problem.”
As an example, Barbe points to the problems being faced by mobile concession owners Cathy and Artemio Barraza, who were assigned one location but subsequently made to move, once because the place they were originally assigned was blocked off, and the second time because they were placed near restaurant.
“You don’t put a Hortons beside a Starbucks, you just don’t, and that was their first thing,” says Barbe, who argues the district needs to map out exactly what vendors can go where.
“When I went to Salmon Arm and gave them money… I talked to the lady she goes, ‘Here’s the paper work, here’s the different sites, here’s a map, which one do you want? Sure enough, that was professional, and they just didn’t really have a professional attitude in town because they don’t have a plan.”
Sicamous council reviewed the district’s business licence bylaw at its July 27 committee of the whole meeting, after having received a letter of complaint from the Barrazas. During their discussion, council agreed to change the Temporary Festival Business licence, to offer a one-day event licence at $125, in order to better accommodate vendors at events such as the recent Sturgis burnout.
Alan Harris, the district administrator, stated that from staff’s perspective there was “massive confusion” regarding the differences between mobile concession, mobile vendor and mobile air vendor, and he suggested they be consolidated. The bigger issue, however, relates to zoning.
“The question is, are mobile vendors even allowed in the District of Sicamous, because they’re not recognized in the zoning bylaw…,” said Harris. “You have to be very careful with what you do because if it’s not recognized in your zoning bylaw, it may not be allowed – staff will be looking into that.”
As for the Hotdog Guy, he feels vendors only add to the attitude of the resort community Sicamous aspires to become.
“We’re a resort town, we’ve got to resort to whatever we need to get shit going,” says Barbe. “I’m pro concession because I believe people love it. Like these little old ladies that were just here. Did you hear them? I can’t even tell you what they said on tape, and I didn’t bring it up, they did, you know what I mean? These are about people walking around and enjoying life.”