Coffee double shot

By Chris Thomson | posted on January 3, 2019

AFTER losing a Goliath vs David battle against Albany’s chamber of commerce, a barista has secured 264 signatures supporting a coffee kiosk he wants to open in the city’s new visitor centre.

At a meeting on November 27, a kiosk planned by coffee van operator Chris Saurin was rejected six City councillors to five after Acting Chamber CEO Michael Clark and representatives of two nearby cafes spoke against the 14.25sqm outlet.

After being the only respondent to a council request for proposals, Mr Saurin had been named preferred operator subject to public consultation.

The kiosk was to have been called ‘Booked’, reflecting its location near the library and tourist ticketing office, and would have opened from the visitor centre onto Alison Hartman Gardens.

During public consultation, only one submission was lodged – by the Chamber. As revealed here, the Chamber asked why the council would “orchestrate” a coffee shop “in direct competition to already struggling businesses in York Street”.

In less than three weeks following the council’s narrow rejection of his planned kiosk, Mr Saurin achieved 264 signatures of support.

The vast majority of petitioners are from Albany, with Shelley Bowden from Kendenup, Vern Adams of Mount Barker and Ami Shepherd of Denmark among a handful of out-of-towners lending their signatures to the kiosk’s cause.

“Over the Christmas period, talking to a lot of people around town, they were pretty peeved [the kiosk] didn’t happen, especially people using the library,” said Mr Saurin whose moniker is number 217 on the petition.

“They said they just wanted somewhere they could get a cup of coffee without walking across [York Street] because they don’t want to leave the kids on their own.

“It would have been a popular thing in there, so I’m still persevering with it if I can, talking with councillors to see if they can get it back on the table.”

On November 27, Deputy Mayor Greg Stocks, his Frederickstown Ward colleague Rebecca Stephens, Kalgan Ward councillors Emma Doughty and Bill Hollingworth, Vancouver Ward’s Tracy Sleeman and Yakamia Ward’s Robert Sutton voted against the kiosk.

Voting for were Mayor Dennis Wellington, West Ward councillors Alison Goode and Sandie Smith, Breaksea Ward’s Ray Hammond and Vancouver Ward’s John Shanhun.

Cr Anthony Moir was not at the meeting, and Cr Paul Terry declared an interest and did not take part in debate.

Mr Saurin’s petition asks the City to reconsider its decision.

“Over Christmas, we would have opened on various days when York Street was [virtually] closed,” he said.

On presenting his petition recently, he told City councillors the only remaining argument against the kiosk was “an opposition to competition and free enterprise”.

Close to deadline yesterday, the City was asked what it planned to do with the space where the kiosk was to go.

A response could not be provided in time.

The Weekender will let you know when something comes through.