After months of uncertainty over the cost of a business licensing fee, Mama T’s owners Ken White and Tonie Shea can look ahead to their busy season with renewed confidence.
The couple have expressed delight at Maple Creek Town Council’s decision to set the rate at $205.50 for 2021 – a stark contrast with previously mentioned figures of $1,200 and $3,000.
The reduced rate takes into account the economic challenges brought on by COVID-19.
It comes as work continues on revamping the Town’s business bylaw and fees schedule.
“I am very happy with the rate,” said White, who appealed to Mayor and Council for fairness during a delegation at the March 9 meeting. “I am very pleased with the decision. It was a shock, but a nice one.”
“I am beyond happy,” said Tonie. “It was unexpected and I want to thank the Council for being more than fair.”
The couple recognize that the reduced rate only applies to 2021. Although they have no idea what the new bylaw fees schedule will look like, they are hopeful there will be no repeat of the last few months. The rate decision was made at the March 23 Council meeting.
Michelle McKenzie, the Mayor, asked for a motion that the Town for 2021 classify Mama T’s as transient traders dealing with food as a local business, and that the $411 rate should be lowered owing to the global pandemic. Furthermore, Mama T’s is required to follow the food truck bylaw, designed to control and regulate mobile food vendors in the town.
Councillor Jill Roy put forward the motion, which was seconded by Councillor Cara Teichroeb.
Councillor Betty Abbott supported the 2021 fee fixed for Mama T’s.
“I think a bylaw like any other plan sometimes looks good on paper, but when you implement it, it may need some tweaking,” she said. “I think the bylaw does need tweaking. I think from Ken’s delegation and the letter he sent they still have some questions.”
McKenzie agreed with Abbott.
“I hope Ken and Tonie will give us some good feedback on where they will be able to operate in town for the 2021 season.”
The motion was carried.
After the meeting, McKenzie told the Maple Creek News that the General Government Committee was working on a new business bylaw.
“We are not rushing into it,” she said, before adding that she hoped it would be complete by July.
McKenzie said there would be a period of education about the new bylaw.
More than two weeks ago, White had appealed to Council for reasonable pricing for mobile food vendors in Maple Creek.
Reading a statement on behalf of Shea and himself, he said: “We do not want special treatment, we want fair treatment.”
The couple said that a $3,000-a-year fee listed on the Town website – and a figure of $1,200-a-year in a bylaw that was proposed and rescinded – were far too high and out of line with other communities.
Last Thursday, the couple were in a buoyant mood as they finished their last working day at the Maple Creek Arena, where they have been operating since October, despite COVID-19.
Considering how tough the year has been for Maple Creek, Mama T’s has done well.
“It has been way better than expected,” said White.