By Steve Hubrecht
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Invermere residents with a penchant for perogies will no doubt be delighted (and perhaps get a bit hungry) upon learning that the bright green Hungry Rooster food truck will be back in downtown Invermere this summer, following a council vote to approve a one-year right-of-way encroachment agreement.

The approval came during Invermere council’s Tuesday, April 13 meeting, and will allow the Hungry Rooster to set up in the right-of-way on 7th Avenue (Invermere’s main street), outside of the Invermere Inn, in a parking spot just a bit off the corner of 7th Avenue and 12th Street, the misaligned four-way intersection common known as Disfunction Junction.

“It’s a bit of a feel good story,” Invermere planner Rory Hromadnik told council members during the meeting, adding district staff have been working with Hungry Rooster owner Paulina Tokarski to find a good spot for the Hungry Rooster truck ever since Tokarski moved to the Columbia Valley several years ago from Victoria, where she was one of the pioneering food trucks at Victoria’s waterfront.

The Hungry Rooster set up for its first few summers in the empty lot by Lake Auto, before moving last year up to the brewery.

“Her truck is a little larger than some of the other food trucks,” said Hromadnik, explaining why it has taken awhile to find the perfect spot for the Hungry Rooster.

Tokarski again talked with district staff this spring about setting up downtown, and by chance, district staff and Tokarski happened on the location by the Invermere Inn, when they parked the truck there to check out other locations in the vicinity, and then realized it fit rather nicely.

“The right of way is kind of weird and it does look as if it (the food truck) sticks out a bit,” said Hromadnik. “But I measured it and there’s close to four metres of right of way… so there’s plenty of room.”

He added that power can be run through the Invermere Inn or through one of the district’s light standards (“if we can make an arrangement”), which would mean Tokarski may not need to use a generator.

“Most importantly, the manager of the Invermere Inn, Chris McIntosh, is in full support of it. He’s actually pretty thrilled to have them there,” said Hromadnik. “It feels like a win-win opportunity.”

Hromadnik added that increasing the district’s outdoor eating options this summer, when the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to still be going on, is probably a good idea.

McIntosh sent a letter to council, confirming his support.

“It’s an interesting placement,” said Invermere mayor Al Miller. “I think it looks good actually.”

Invermere councillor Gerry Taft added that, in his opinion, the district’s street and sidewalk vending policy is under-used. “It really can add a lot of vibrancy to the downtown,” said Taft. “Some communities…are pretty anti-mobile vending. I think it’s worth embracing.”

Taft (who as a teenager ran a mobile vending business) added that occasionally some of the local businesses with physical storefronts complain about mobile vendors, but in his view, the reality is that it benefits the community to have mobile vending.

“In the case of the Hungry Rooster, that’s an expensive truck, so there’s some money invested…I don’t think it’s competition for the brick and mortar businesses downtown,” he said.

Hromadnik clarified to council that Tokarski plans to be in the 7th Avenue location most days between May and September, but may occasionally be elsewhere, at festivals, for instance.

“I think it’s good for the downtown, and I will support this,” chimed in councillor Greg Anderson.

Miller re-iterated his support and noted that, in terms of dining options in Invermere, “it adds selection, and people want that. We’ve got a pretty special downtown and I think it’s (the new location for the Hungry Rooster) going to be great.”

Council unanimously voted in favour of the encroachment agreement.