New Brunswick

Parking a food truck in Campbellton? It could cost you $500K

Jariya O'Brien built her business from the ground up — she started with only $20 — and owns a restaurant and two food trucks. But she was still shocked when she found out how much it would cost her to park one of her travelling canteens in Campbellton.

Bangkok Food Truck travels New Brunswick feeding hungry people, but it won't stop in Campbellton any time soon

Jariya O'Brien's Bangkok Food Truck is a hit with customers across northern New Brunswick, but she says high parking and bylaw fees are keeping the business from serving certain communities. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

Jariya O'Brien built her business from the ground up — she started with only $20 — and owns a restaurant and two food trucks. But she was still shocked when she found out how much it would cost her to park one of her travelling canteens in Campbellton.

"It's really expensive," she said. "I don't know what's going on there. We want to be there so bad."

The Shediac-based business expanded last year when O'Brien and her staff began travelling to Miramichi.

"We had hundreds of people come to our truck so we decided to go even further north," said Jariya's husband, Randy O'Brien.
Jariya O'Brien was surprised, and thrilled, at the response to her Thai cooking in northern New Brunswick (Bridget Yard/CBC)

The truck has parked in Miramichi, Bathurst and Dalhousie, but a Campbellton bylaw prevents the couple from setting up shop in the northern New Brunswick city.

The cost for non-residents to park a food truck is $500 an hour, to a maximum of 10 hours. Over the course of a summer, or roughly a hundred days, the cost to the business would be $500,000.

Jariya and Randy O'Brien would not disclose their daily profits, but "it's not $5,000," Randy said with a laugh.

Aiming for balance

Jariya O'Brien is pleased with the response to her Thai cooking in northern New Brunswick, where her customers' delight surprised her.

"It's so exciting for us," she said. "We're so happy to be here, when people love our food."

She believes potential customers in Campbellton should have a chance to try her pad thai, garlic pork, spring rolls and curries.
Bangkok Food Truck has an agreement with Home Hardware's corporate headquarters to set up in parking lots in New Brunswick. In addition to the agreement, some cities, like Bathurst, add a fee for parking on private, commercial property. (Bridget Yard/CBC)

"I'd love to go there every two weeks, for our customers."

Nearby Atholville is also a potential landing spot for the truck, but Campbellton's neighbouring municipality has the second-highest fee in the province.

"It's $250 per day," said Randy O'Brien

"Then it's Woodstock, which is $100 per day. When we found that bylaw last year we asked them to reduce it because we found it excessive. If we stay there for a month, it's three grand, which is a lot for a food truck."

The same strategy did not work in Campbellton.

Mayor Stephanie Anglehart-Paulin responded to the issue in the Campbellton Community Concerns group on Facebook, 

Even in big cities, the fees are only $1,000 to $1,200 a season. It's not a daily or monthly charge, which is what we're finding in Northern New Brunswick.- Randy O'Brien, Bangkok Food Truck

"The bylaws are there to protect our business owners, who already pay property taxes in the city," she wrote in a comment.

Later, she added: "Shop local."

"The thing was, them choosing to enforce the bylaw now has a lot of stir going," said Randy O'Brien.

"They're going to have to find a balance between the restaurant owners they're trying to protect and the citizens that want variety.

"Even in big cities, the fees are only $1,000 to $1,200 a season. It's not a daily or monthly charge, which is what we're finding in northern New Brunswick."

The high fees in Campbellton are part of a bigger issue in the north, according to O'Brien. He was quick to add he hasn't actually spoken to the mayor of Campbellton, and he understands the mayor may not have complete control over bylaws and enforcement.

Anglehart-Paulin was unavailable to comment on this story.

About the Author

Bridget Yard

Reporter

Bridget Yard is a video journalist based in Saskatoon. She has also worked for CBC in Fredericton and Bathurst, N.B.