Mahone Bay ice cream business feeling the chill of proposed bylaw changes

by Gayle Wilson

  • <p>FACEBOOK PHOTO, SEASIDE CREAMERY</p><p>This summer Seaside Creamery had 14 students working for it, according to the owner of the business, Mark Lowe</p>

The Mahone Bay Town Councill will be further discussing the fate of the controversial mobile ice cream and fast-food business stationed throughout the summer in the parking lot across from the commercial space, Kedy's Inlet, at its next meeting September 8.

If proposed changes to the town's temporary vending bylaws go ahead, the business, Seaside Creamery, would only be allowed to be open one week per month, unless it moved to a commercial zone location.

A draft Temporary Vendor By-law went to a public hearing on August 6. At a Special Council meeting held immediately afterward, the council members passed a motion directing staff to prepare a report incorporating suggestions from Jeff Phillips, chair of the Mahone Bay and Area Tourism and Chamber of Commerce, and to determine if they would require substantive or non-substantive changes to the draft by-laws.

The staff report was to be included on the agenda for the next regular council meeting.

Mayor David Devenne has indicated to the media the changes address concerns raised by local businesses and the chamber about vendors setting up beside businesses selling similar products and taking a large percentage of their profits throughout the summer.

Mark Lowe, the owner of Seaside Creamery and Kedy's Inlet, has advocated through social media and to the town to keep the business going, saying it provides a valuable training ground and a place of employment for students.

"Seaside is not a typical ice cream shop, it is designed and set up to teach students entrepreneurship, work ethic, customer service, sales and marketing, and most importantly...how to count change!," Lowe reported on Facebook.

He said the proposed changes "would essentially close the business and the students would lose their employment and ability to learn valuable work and life skills."

Lowe's Facebook comments drew resounding support from community members.

Shawna Harnish responded: "It's an amazing little business and I really hope it is allowed to continue. I love passing by and seeing all the happy faces both young and old!"

However, not everyone agreed the business should be allowed to stay and operate where it is.

Ann Anderson responded on Facebook: "I didn't see a problem at first with this being a summer student run ice cream spot ( with full permits to do just that) but was shocked when all the other food items were added. That completely changed the venue. I can understand why people would be upset if the permit wasn't meant for a permanent restaurant. Guidelines are meant to be followed by all persons, which is the proper lessons for these students to learn, not that the rules don't apply to them."

Lowe does have the option to move the mobile food service across the road to his Kedy's Inlet property, which is commercially zoned. However, he has expressed concern that this would require customers to park their vehicles in the lot where the service is now and walk across the busy Highway 3 to buy an ice cream cone or other fast-food item.

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