By Mike Anderson
On a hot summer day, you can find Murray Taylor selling jumbo hot dogs and sausages in the parking lot at the Schell Home Hardware Building Centre on Dalton Rd in Sutton.
After obtaining his Town license two months ago, Taylor, the former co-owner of Moolicious, a popular local ice cream parlour, has built up quite the clientele, many of whom stop for lunch to discuss the latest town gossip.
While Taylor is happy to have the spot, he still dreams of being able to operate his hot dog stand — which he calls Wienerlicious — in one of Georgina’s waterfront parks, preferably De La Salle Park.
But those dreams may be on hold for a while.
According to a spokesperson, the Town has no plans to revise its refreshment vehicle by-law to allow local food vendors in municipal parks this summer.
“Amendments to the refreshment vehicle by-law are not being considered at this time,” the spokesperson said in an email to The Post.
“The inclusion of food trucks and vendors within Town waterfront parks will be a discussion in Part 3 of the Waterfront Parks Master Plan when prioritizations and resources are considered for all of the ideas and concepts presented in Phase 1 and 2.”
According to the Town, Phase 2 will go before council on July 12. And once approved, the lead consultant, the Planning Partnership (TPP), will complete the action plan outlined in Phase 3. The target date for Phase 3 is Q4 2023.
Still, the Town has stated that the master plan may take up to ten years to implement fully.
“When is the master plan going to be finished?” Asked an exasperated Taylor, who doesn’t understand why it’s taking so long to approve a hot dog stand in a Town park, especially since the Town has extended the cooking ban it introduced last summer.
“I think the Town’s missing the boat,” he said.
“The people who come to the park don’t leave. They’ve already paid for parking. If they leave with their car, they’re not getting back in. So, they’re not travelling into Town to go the restaurants.”
“So you’re better off having somebody there to serve them, like food trucks. It doesn’t have to be just a hot dog cart.”
Taylor also believes that the cooking ban, combined with a lack of amenities in Town parks, negatively impacts tourism.
“If they don’t have amenities, they’re not going to come,” he said.
Many of the day-trippers the Post talked to on Saturday afternoon at De La Salle Park agreed with Taylor.
“We came all the way from Ajax. We brought food to BBQ, and they said we’re not allowed to do that. And I didn’t bring anything else for my kids,” said Asama, who had only a few bags of potato chips and bottles of water for her seven-year-old daughter and five-year-old son.
“We just paid $35 for parking. The kids are hungry. I don’t know what to do.”
Asama said it was too far to walk to a store, and they didn’t want to drive and not be able to get back in to the parkling lot.
Josh, from Richmond Hill, who was at the beach with friends, supports the cooking ban but wondered why they couldn’t buy a hot dog, ice cream or even pop at the park.
“They should, honestly, make a compromise. If there’s no cooking, let local food trucks in so people can still eat. You can’t just say no to everything.”
“Some people come from far out of town just to come here and may not know the rules.”
Taylor wants the Town to review what other municipalities are doing and revise the by-law now rather than waiting for the master plan to be implemented, which, he believes, could be years away.
He points to the Town of Gravenhurst, which recently launched a pilot program allowing food trucks and hot dog carts to book up to a two-week-long space in designated parks. Bookings are available from May to October with no extra charge beyond the licensing fee.
“They ask food vendors to come there, free of charge. As long as you’ve got all your permits and health department approval,” he said.
“They want you to be there, but not in Georgina.”
Taylor said if money’s the object, he’s willing to pay more for a license — which costs him $350 — if he’s allowed to sell in parks.
“Instead of charging you $350 for your license, maybe you pay $1,000 for the season? That’s OK because you’ll make it back,” he said.
Taylor adds that plenty of local food vendors would love to sell in the parks, and because they would be licensed, there’s no chance of any “fly-by-nighters.”
“I don’t know what the problem is really,” he said.
“Maybe it’s a headache for the Town, but I can’t see why it’s any different than any other contract. They rent out the hall for different things.”
“We have an Economic Development office; where are they? Why are they not promoting this?”
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