Pascal Roy feels glad about the outpouring of support for his East Vancouver corner store. Le Marché St. George has been a popular grocery, café, and gathering spot at the corner of St. George Street and East 28th Avenue for several years now.
According to Roy, he was told that the city will take away the store’s seating and stop it from serving warmed food, which will effectively make it unviable and potentially lead to its closure.
“We’re allowed to sell cigarettes…lottery tickets…magazines, porn magazines…junk food, but my business is going to be closed down because we’re selling crepes,” Roy told the Straight in a phone interview.
City councillor Melissa De Genova said she used to live near the store and liked it very much.
“It’s lovely, and it’s certainly a hub for arts and culture and neighbourhood in that community,” she said by phone.
De Genova said city staff had informed council that they will work with the owner to address issues relating to the store: “To be very clear, the city is not closing them down.”
More than 12,000 people have signed an online petition to allow neighbourhood grocery stores to have limited food-establishment licences. According to Roy, he has been paying for a city licence for outdoor seating, and Vancouver Coastal Health inspects the area where food is warmed up for serving.
However, Roy said, a city inspector responding to a neighbour’s complaint about strollers on the sidewalk told him that the city made a mistake about allowing seats. The inspector also advised him that the neighbourhood grocery can sell only packaged goods for takeout, much like a 7-Eleven.
Supporters are scheduled to hold a rally on Saturday (December 12). “These kinds of cafés create communities and they’re important,” Roy said. “That’s why we have such a response, which is really heartwarming.”