By Mike Anderson

This summer you can enjoy a hot dog, burger or taco while lounging in your swimsuit at two of Georgina’s waterfront parks. 

On May 8, Council approved a food vendor pilot program for 2024 at De La Salle Park and Willow Beach Park. 

The initial staff report recommended allowing four dedicated food vendors at De La Salle only.

However, after much discussion, council amended the report’s recommendations to include two permanent (seasonal) food vendors and up to two rotating vendors at De La Salle, which could be non-food vendors.

Council also approved two food vendors at Willow Beach, which could also be on a rotating basis.

Staff issued an Expression of Interest (EOI) to potential vendors on May 9 — with preference given to local vendors. The submission deadline is May 31.

Vendors who meet the following criteria will be selected: They must be licensed to operate in Georgina, provide proof of insurance, and not require a water or electrical hookup.

While vendors will be required to purchase a permit, that is just the starting point, according to the report, as compensation “will be suggested by the vendor and subject to negotiation.”

The staff report follows last summers online survey of residents, visitors, and business owners to find out whether there was support for food vendors in the Town’s waterfront parks.

A total of 400 surveys were received, with 87 per cent of respondents indicating they supported the introduction of food vendors.

According to staff, 89 percent of the business owners who completed the survey were in favour of a vendor program.

Still, the survey indicated respondents had concerns, including excess garbage (26%), noise and odour (16%), increase in traffic (20%), and damage to park spaces (18%).

Surprisingly, only 12 per cent of respondents cited loss of revenue for nearby businesses.

Before the vote, Jackson’s Point resident Steve Jacobson made a deputation urging the council not to approve food vendors in De La Salle Park.

Jacobson said that it would unfairly impact local businesses in Jackson’s Point and Sutton, especially restaurants, which rely on summer sales from beachgoers.

“Local businesses rely on these seasonal patrons. 60 to 65% of their annual business is conducted from May to September. These dollars are crucial as they set them up for the winter season,” Jacobson said.

He also pointed out that while the Town wants to give preference to local vendors, many are not ready to respond to an EOI. 

Jacobson argued that food vendors should only be allowed at Willow Beach, as there were few restaurants in the area that food vendors would impact.

Ward 4 Councillor Dale Genge proposed a motion restricting food vendors to Willow Beach only, but it was not supported. Genge was also the only councillor to vote against having food vendors at De La Salle.

After the summer season, staff will report back to council on the pilot program results and suggest next steps.



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