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Red tape waived for mobile street vendors

Victoria city council approves bicycle food vendor pilot project

When Christian Kuharic was young, he would go crazy anytime the ice cream man came cycling by.

Growing up in Victoria, Kuharic remembers hearing the ring of the bell from the Dickie Dee’s ice cream bike vendor, followed by a swarm of kids who would rush out of their homes to buy a scoop of their favourite ice cream on a hot summer day.

“We’d go crazy when we heard the bells ringing and we’d run out and get the ice cream,” Kuharic said.

It’s that feeling of nostalgia that Kuharic remembers fondly and one he hopes to replicate this summer following Victoria city council’s recent approval of a bicycle food vendor pilot project to begin this summer. As part of the project, bike vendors can sell food on city streets and in parks until the end of the tourist season.

Kuharic hopes to get the wheels rolling on his business shortly, with a few bike vendors cycling around the Inner Harbour, Ogden Point and Beacon Hill Park selling roughly a dozen different flavours of ice cream to residents and tourists.

“It will be great for the city. We have so many people just walking around, it would be so easy for them to just walk up and buy an ice cream or whatever it may be,” he said, adding his bicycles will have a classic design, similar to the Dickie Dee vendors.

“It’s just bringing some of that nostalgia back.”

More than a decade ago, council imposed a moratorium on new business licences that would allow the sale of goods or services from mobile carts on public spaces. Currently, only three mobile food vendors have permits to operate on city property.

A little over a year ago, two residents approached councillors Jeremy Loveday and Ben Isitt requesting to operate businesses that would allow them to sell their goods on bikes, including ice cream and in October, council endorsed a motion to look at allowing bicycle street vendors to sell goods on city streets.

Since the pilot project was approved, Loveday has had inquiries from entrepreneurs looking to get their businesses rolling as well.

“It was one of those times when you hear about a rule and red tape and you wonder why it’s there. It seemed there was an opportunity for the city to get out of the way and let small businesses have a shot in Victoria,” he said. “Mobile street vending will add life and vibrancy to our streets that will benefit both locals and tourists throughout the summer months.”