John Zapantis hasn’t given up on selling Alberta Street News in St. Albert.
The newspaper is printed monthly and offers vendors the chance to make money by selling the paper. Zapantis is a writer and media relations co-ordinator for the paper, which helps illuminate readers about the issues facing people living on the margins.
He was hoping that newspaper vending would be included as part of mobile vendor guidelines the City of St. Albert was considering implementing. However, council decided in March to not go ahead with any guidelines at staff’s recommendation.
The decision occurred after a food truck pilot was conducted.
Now instead of guidelines being implemented for a variety of mobile vendors, like fruit stands, food trucks and newspaper vendors like Zapantis, those businesses will be regulated through the city’s traffic bylaw.
“I’m definitely going to be going to city staff,” Zapantis said. He’s hoping to get permission to sell on public land – he’s mentioned St. Anne Street as a desired location before – but might look into getting permission to sell on private land if that doesn’t work out.
He’s frustrated that if he sells on public land, the spot he is pitching as a place to be will have to be given the O.K. by city engineering for safety purposes.
He said there’s no such rules in place for Alberta Street News vendors in Edmonton or Calgary.
“Why is St. Albert so different?” he asked.
Alberta Street News publisher and editor Linda Dumont said in Edmonton and Calgary it’s O.K. for vendors to sell the paper, as long as they’re wearing their vendor identification.
“We’re lucky here, we’re lucky in Edmonton and in Calgary,” she said, noting she’s heard of other cities where a business licence is required.
If Zapantis or other mobile vendors want to sell on public lands, city engineer permission would be needed, said Danielle MacDougall, a City of St. Albert communications adviser, in an email.
If a vendor wants to sell on private lands, permission from the owner and a development permit will be required.
In both cases, a St. Albert business licence is needed, she said.
City engineer Kate Polkovsky said there hasn’t been any formal requests from any mobile vendors yet, so the engineering department hasn’t had to work through the new process with an application yet.
Engineering, development and other city departments will have a consultative process when it comes to signing off on any mobile vendor. That sign off will depend on the location the mobile vendor is interested in and how their set up could impact traffic flow, be it cars, bikes or pedestrians.
“It would be assessed based on the type of vendor it was, the merits, how it could impact the existing system,” she said. “What we always do look for is to ensure that we are ensuring a safe transportation network and a pedestrian connectivity network.”
While it was recently reported in the media that Alberta Street News might be facing closure, Zapantis and Dumont said sponsors have since come forward that ensure the paper will continue to be produced for at least the next year.