By David F. Rooney
It was supposed to be a big moment for Dale Caverly. The beleaguered owner of Scratch, the kitchen he has been operating in the parking lot next to Grizzly Plaza for much of the last 12 months and that City officials are attempting to get moved, was to appear in front of Council and plead for its understanding and compassion. Did he succeed?
That remains to be seen. He did very little speaking on his own behalf, leaving most of that to former Councillor Ron Holoday. Caverly has been embroiled in a disagreement with the City over what he believes is his right to permanently operate his Scratch food vending operation in the parking lot next to the plaza. He provided Council with a petition signed by a couple of hundred people.
“Nobody wants to get into litigation — especially Mr. Caverly,” Holoday told Council on Tuesday.
He hinted that Caverly was willing to sue the City saying “this matter should be resolved through negotiation — not litigation” and said Caverly was “here to negotiate.”
Holoday said Caverly, a former military cook who says he cooked at Club Med, has a written agreement with the City that permitts him to operate out of the parking lot. He said Caverly pays $1,000 a year for the right to occupy two parking stalls and $100 a year for electricity. Director of Planning and Bylaw Enforcement John Guenther, has said Caverly is only supposed to operate there a few days a week — not permanently.
Holoday and Caverly said they had the agreements with them but did not have copies to give Council. They later rustled through a stack of papers in the Council chamber and, at the end of the meeting, two hours after they spoke, handed Councillor Antoinette Halberstadt a sheaf of documents they said were relevant.
Caverly did speak briefly on his own behalf and answered questions from Councillors, however, his cause was not helped by a claim that he had had a confrontation with former Mayor Mark McKee. McKee says he has never met Caverly. Nor was it assisted by a claim that a previous local mobile food vendor had occupied a spot downtown for more than 20 years.
That former vendor, Dennis Berarducci put paid to that argument by asking for permission to speak after Caverly was done.
Berarducci said he was allowed to park at Grizzly Plaza three days a week for fours each time but “the unit had to go home every evening.”
He said that if there was special event at the plaza he might be allowed to leave it there overnight but he was never permitted to simply park in the parking lot and, in effect, operate his burger stand like a full-service restaurant.
“It was not up to the City to find me a place to operate — it was up to me as a business owner,” Berarducci said, saying he takes exception to Caverly’s insistence that he has a right to permanently operate his mobile kitchen out of two parking stalls and even set up tables and chairs.
He said that if Caverly does that he must provide bathroom facilities, something he is not doing. The only bathroom facilities nearby are the public washrooms.
Acting Mayor Tony Scarcella told Caverly and Holoday that Council would further discuss the matter at its next meeting as a Committee of the Whole, which is scheduled for Tuesday, July 20.