The concession near the pier in Riverside Park will stay closed this summer, with the fate of the building unclear.
City of Kamloops business operations and events supervisor Sean Smith said the city is opting for food trucks, rather than have food served from the concession.
Last year, the city relaxed its rules to allow food trucks in Riverside Park.
It went well, Smith said, offering customers more variety. He said such vendors also have more flexibility during bouts of bad weather, flooding and wildfire smoke, which have impacted park visitors in recent years and have made it more difficult to operate the concession on a consistent basis.
The concession is typically open seven days per week during July and August. It is also open on weekends from the Victoria Day long weekend in May and into the fall.
“It was just decided that we wanted to be able to offer the food trucks a little more opportunity to do business,” Smith said. “At the same time, serving the wants and needs of the public.”
Papa G’s owner Gerald Thiessen operated the concession in Riverside Park for five years and said he was surprised and disappointed the city did not want him back.
He called it a “big hit” to business and noted the summer students he employed will be without work as a result. Thiessen also owns a brick and mortar location at 561 Seymour St. — Papa G’s Cafe — but said he doesn’t want to open a food truck in order to remain in the park.
“I’m sure people are going to be upset that we’re not selling ice cream this year,” Thiessen said. “Kids cones we sold for a buck. During Music in the Park, we had a lineup every night for ice cream.”
The city charges food trucks $625 per season (March 1 to Oct. 15) to be in Riverside Park, except during signature events, such as Canada Day. The concession vendor also paid that fee, in addition to an agreement to pay a monthly fee and/or provide the city with a cut of sales from the concession.
In 2018, the city designated eight spaces for food trucks in Riverside Park, including three near the concession. Smith said food trucks this year will be able to tuck up onto the pavement, near the concession, which would have previously been problematic.
The city approved 14 mobile food vendors in 2018, though not all of them were licensed for Riverside Park.
The city has applied for grant funding to upgrade Riverside Park, with plans including a refrigerated outdoor ice rink, trail upgrades, bank stabilization and lighting. It previously considered the concession space as a location for the ice rink, but instead chose the spray park area, which would be home to a rink in the winter and spray park in the summer.