City tows Long Dick’s food trailer

Daniel MacEachern
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Owner says he’s considering legal action after latest chapter of bureaucratic battle

Long Dick’s Sausage Emporium owner/operator Steve Smith serves customers on Duckworth Street in this file photo. Smith is in a dispute with the City of St. John’s over the towing of his trailer. — File photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

Food vendor Steve Smith says he’s considering legal action after his trailer was towed by the City of St. John’s.

Smith, the owner of Long Dick’s Sausage Emporium, has been battling with Newfoundland Power and St. John’s city council since setting up last spring over his temporary location and over power regulations.

September saw council approve a permanent spot for Long Dick’s on New Gower Street, but trouble arose, said Smith, when he was asked to move a few spaces away to make it easier for an old building to be torn down, just before last week’s snowstorm hit.

Snowplows clearing the roads boxed in his trailer with a high ridge of snow, which then hardened into ice, said Smith.

“I’d gone back to them and said, ‘Look, I’d love to comply with you and move this temporarily. I’m trying to work with you. I don’t want to rock the boat,’” he told The Telegram. “But I said, ‘I can’t get out of here. The snow’s got me buried.’”

Smith said he had to use an axe and a steel shovel just to clear enough snow to open the trailer door, but says his requests for more time or assistance from the city were not heard.

A representative from public works told him the city had to treat his trailer as it would a vehicle — which it isn’t, said Smith.

“I lease the spot from the city. Sure, I’m operating there, but the city has deliberately blocked me in, the plows. I said, you’re going to have to come clear around me, it’s as simple as that. I can’t get out of there.”

Sometime Wednesday night, Long Dick’s was towed.

“He contacts me this morning and tells me that (St. John’s director of building and property management) Dave Blackmore went ahead and told him to tow the God damn thing because they have the authority to do it by the contract that I’m under,” said Smith, who added he’s furious because his equipment inside wasn’t secured to be moved.

“My commercial stove, the commercial barbecue, the coolers, the refrigerator, the freezers — all that had to be strapped down inside if it was going to be pulled anywhere that it may have to go up a hill.”

Smith called it an “abuse of power” by the city and said the city’s getting back at him for speaking to the media over his earlier bureaucratic battles in getting open for business. He was hoping to reopen this weekend, but now he’s not sure if he’ll be able to reopen again at all.

“I borrowed money to install this power system. I’m already in it up to my neck,” he said, adding that he has consulted with a law firm over the ongoing conflict with the city.

The city made him pay for the entire year’s lease up front as well as install an elaborate power setup, he said, which was difficult to do with the move from Duckworth and setup on New Gower.

“I don’t know how to fight this anymore, I really don’t. I’m in serious jeopardy of losing my business.”

A spokeswoman for the city said Blackmore was in a meeting Thursday afternoon and not available, but added Smith was given the requisite 24 hours to move

his truck for snowclearing operations.

“He was given the notice in person, spoken to and told, and he would not move his vehicle,” said Jennifer Mills. “The other mobile vendors moved their vehicles. In fact, one of them actually towed themselves, because their vehicle would not start, and he (Smith) would not move.”

Twitter: TelegramDaniel


Organizations: Newfoundland Power

Geographic location: New Gower Street, Duckworth

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page



Recent comments

  • BOO
    January 21, 2013 - 14:28

    Long Dick, get used to the jealous Newfies leaving asinine comments here for you. Most of those people wouldn't pull you out of the water if you were drowning. It's the Newfie way! Don't expect any sympathy from that bunch. Most of them wouldn't run a popcorn stand if Orville set it up for them! Hope you get your business up and running again.

  • Is this guy for real
    January 19, 2013 - 12:26

    The city gave him plenty of time to move his trailer but he couldn't be bothered. I've had my car towed because of snow clearing in the past and I blame nobody but myself for it. I don't usually side with the city but in this case their right. This guy is blaming everyone but himself. He is also complaining about the power supply he has to install, I'm glad the city is making him do it right so that it is not a danger to the public. Long Dick, if your gonna keep up this nonsense and blame the city for everything please just pack up and set up business some place else.

  • Brian
    January 19, 2013 - 11:56

    I know exactly what it was like trying to drill through some of the icy banks that the plows pushed up. More power to Smith and more power to small business owners.

  • Driver
    January 18, 2013 - 23:29

    @RJ for someone who does so much complaining about the news paper,you sound like you are enjoying reading it and certainly leaving your comments try reading a fishing magazine,maybe it might give you enjoyment.Bottom line don't read the newspaper leave your silly comments else where.

  • Long Dick's Sausage
    January 18, 2013 - 20:30

    To the people who think that I'm trying to get attention. First this isn't about snow clearing, that is just the final straw. This is about a city department using anything it can to disrupt my business. I have kept my mouth shut on so many issues becuase I was worried about backlash. The fact is the city has put so many obstacles in my way that it has effectively shut my business down for the last 3 and a half months. I have the documentation to back this up. At this point I fear that I'm out of business and the icing on the cake is that they impounded my rig while I was desperately trying to reopen and get cash flow going to make the payments. This isn't a hobby it's a business and my lively hood. I am speaking out now because I've had enough and I no longer care if I piss off someone at city hall. I'm not the first business they have done this to. Go to my facebook and read some of the information I have posted. Be informed before you make a judgement. For the record if I had of been allowed to open up back in September and been working all this time I would have been able to afford to have the trailer moved and stored during the storm and taken a few days off. What I was trying to do was to get the power installed and reopen before I lose the business.

  • Foghorn Leghorn
    January 18, 2013 - 13:57

    If there is one thing that this guy is professional at, and that is manipulating the media for as much free publicity that he can get. So far his idea seems to be working perfectly!

    • Haha
      February 18, 2013 - 02:08

      I agree he is trying to get publicity for a business he can't open the doors to. "Hey folks come on down to the snow bank that used to be my business and have nothing because the city is making it impossible to open" I think all this great publicity is doing him a lot of good.

  • RJ
    January 18, 2013 - 13:34

    A city ridden with low life drug scumbags who bring bedbugs to court over and over ,there was a armed robbery and stabbing last nite and towing of a hotdog cart is news...welcome to St. John's!!

    • bogus
      January 18, 2013 - 22:30

      Don't forget the high rolling drug scumbags.

  • Rod
    January 18, 2013 - 11:41

    I can't believe people are siding with this guy. It is his responsibility to clear the snow from around his business, just as I have to clear my driveway when the city clears our Street. Everything is always someone else’s fault with this guy. I fully support Food truck operations - but this guy gives the industry a bad name. It’s a constant complaint with this guy. Maybe he can provide some complimentary "whine" with every hot dog sold. The other vendors cooperated - he didn't. End of story. Get out of bed and off your lazy Arse, shovel the snow like the rest of us! Move the trailer as requested, and were advised! No sympathy here.

  • willy
    January 18, 2013 - 11:23

    Please, feel sorry for sausage boy and buy his cholesterol laden wienies he is going to loose his business because of the big bad wolf. He knew the rules and chose to ignore them, very brash individual.

  • A M
    January 18, 2013 - 11:19

    I spoke with the owner of this place last summer for nearly an hour. He detailed to me all the ways that the city was giving him a hard time. They seem to be looking for any loophole to shut this guy down. It's appalling and embarrassing that the City would be trying to hold down a taxpaying entrepreneur. Shameful.

  • John Smith
    January 18, 2013 - 10:11

    This guy is a menace...I hope he closes up his greasy spoon and heads to parts unknown....

    • Jon
      January 18, 2013 - 11:20

      Yeah, I can't think of anything more menacing than a guy wanting to sell food out of a trailer. geez.

    • Nick
      January 18, 2013 - 11:49

      Is this the sort of comment we want for all people wanting to work a business in St. John's?

    • david
      January 19, 2013 - 10:43

      A hot dog truck is a public "menace", but watching your governemnt take $12 billion dolars and incinerate it on a white elephant power project in the face of enormous public outcry is something you fully support. Gotcha.

  • Time for a change
    January 18, 2013 - 09:28

    Happily Retired you hit the nail right on the head. This story identifies just more frustration seeping out of a larger issue. This guy moved aside for growth and ultimately more tax dollars to the city. St. John’s is a growing city. Here lays the general taxpayer frustration. The deal about growing bigger as a city means a larger tax base. A bigger tax base is supposed to translate into lower or at the very least no tax increases to residents. When the opposite occurs it signals a very serious financial sustainability problem within the city. Growing bigger for growth sake and without any financial benefit to current taxpayers is the definition of poor municipal planning. Bottom Line: If a city’s tax base is increasing along with residential (voters) property taxes then council is not doing its job and any increase in property tax is only money to help subsidize and hide council's incompetence ... and their pensions of course.

  • tric
    January 18, 2013 - 09:27

    This city needs to re-evaluate how they treat the food truck industry. Its booming in many other provinces, but here, the city tries everything in their power to keep them away for some stupid reason. Do some actual city planning, and find a place where we can have new, unique food trucks to operate in. I know people who want to start food trucks here with different and unique foods, but this tale of how Long Dick's is being treated is rightfully scaring them away. Its time we allow more than fries and gravy out of these things. Get with the times.

    • I agree
      January 18, 2013 - 09:52

      Yes! I agree with TRIC - hasn't anyone seen 'EAT STREET' on the Food Network? cities booming with small business owners operating food trailers and trucks and turning out amazing food locals and tourists love!

  • L. Locket
    L. Locket
    January 18, 2013 - 09:13

    I too am wondering what council has against this person trying to get a small business going; they appear to have created obstacles at every opportunity for him. Likewise for the guy who makes the delicious falafels, who attempted the same. You think Council would encourage small business, not try to prevent it!! Elections are coming up soon, council.

  • Dee
    January 18, 2013 - 08:48

    I agree with most of the comments,Mr Smiith you are responsable to keep around your business clear of snow,garbage etc.You had 1 week to clear the snow and ice as all of us did.The streets downtown are pretty narrow without snow.I say if you had to have your area cleared they would have excused you.Let me ask this if someone had to slip,fall at or around your place of business who would be at fault and possibly sued you or the city.We would all have our cars towed for snow clearing and we would not get a 24 hour notice handed to us personally.

  • Joe
    January 18, 2013 - 08:42

    Typical of the City, they are only business friendly with their buddies. Anyone trying get on their feet in business in this town are in for a hard ride. if you are not a cruise ship or a large developer you are dirt. I hope Shelaigh O'Leary puts O'Keefe out on his ar*e when election time comes. O'Keefe is the bigger part of the problem we have, as you can see from the Harbor fence situation. Too many teachers trying to be business men and know nothing about business....Colbert and Coombs were another two no minds. Wish we had some business men willing to run for elections,,, both provincial and municipal.

  • darren
    January 18, 2013 - 07:49

    Its about time someone got this clown off the road.

    • jon
      January 18, 2013 - 08:59

      yeah, that's a great attitude. thanks for the constructive feedback.

  • Dan
    January 18, 2013 - 07:48

    Its an election year people, choose wisely!

  • Jon
    January 18, 2013 - 07:20

    It wouldn't surprise me if this had something do with the name. Guaranteed there are people complaining for the sake of the children. Anyways, best of luck to you Mr. Smith. I really hope you don't give up your fight. It seems like you have come so far already.

  • Kent
    January 18, 2013 - 07:17

    The City isn't business friendly.. that's why many businesses either relocate or choose to set up in Mt. Pearl.

    • jeff
      January 23, 2013 - 09:29

      Kent, I agree with you 100%. It seems this city is totally against progress and improving business. We need some business people in there, not the old people who only care about keeping old crap. Look at the park issue the summer. There was a plan to have beautiful work done to the park and instead they are keeping the old bandstand because its old. It's not even nice. I mean wtf??? I love my truck, but when it gets old I get a new better one that works better, better for the environment, etc, etc. The council really and truely seem to totally have their head up their ****. In a time when they should be getting rid of red tape and helping progress, all they seem to do is create roadblocks for anyone. No wonder Mount pearl is doing so well. St. John's council get with the times and promote business and our diversity and culture!!!

  • mainlander
    January 18, 2013 - 07:15

    what does the city have against this guy and his business?

  • Anon
    January 18, 2013 - 07:13

    The trailer was not deliberately plowed in, it was plowed around after 50 + cm of snow. The same will happen after every snowfall. It is not the job of the city to clear your business of snow, it is your job. Eveybody has to clear the snow around their business & or home after a storm or snow fall. You could have shoveled before everything froze & then it would have been easier for you. (There was lots of time.) Everyone who lives in or works in the downtown core knows that streets are widened systematically after heavy snow falls & for one night you have to move your vehicle. Your business is in a trailer which has to be licensed by Motor Vehicle Registration therefore your business is operating out of a vehicle. It was your responsibility to move it so streets could be widened for the safety of the general public. The city tows vehicles impeding street widening so that they can do their job. I do not often agree with the city, but in this situation I do.

  • Flora
    January 18, 2013 - 06:26

    I don't understand. Municipalities from coast to coast to coast in Canada welcome food trucks and make way for them. What's up with St. John's? They should be tripping over themselves to accommodate these guys.

    • Not a fan of attention seekers
      January 18, 2013 - 07:02

      Who cares? It's always somebody else's fault with this guy, and there's always and excuse. Why the media continues to give him the attention (and free advertising) that he craves is beyond me. If the owner wants the amenities that go with a permanent store front, maybe he should invest in one. I hope this is the last we've heard of this clown.

    • Happily Retired
      January 18, 2013 - 07:25

      Jennifer, Luck had nothing to do with it. I paid (am still paying) for my house through hard work and sacrifice. While I'm not going to criticize any other choices, I certainly am not going to apologize for mine. However, I strongly disagree with being forced to pay more taxes while living on a fixed income. Especially when council does not want to take the finances of the city seriously.

    • Steve
      January 18, 2013 - 07:30

      Didn't you read the article Flora? There are other food trucks, and they cooperated with the City. Buddy is saying the city "deliberately" plowed him in. What a crock! Obviously the City had to clear the streets, and had to work around him. The City needed him to move for a good reason, they gave him lots of notice, and then they had no other choice but to move it. The City did not go down there and plow out any other mobile vendors, nor does it plow out parked cars unless it is towing them. You parked down there, you're responsible for clearing the snow and getting out of there. Stop being a sook buddy!

    • longdicklover
      January 18, 2013 - 07:38

      I am not surprised by the City Councils lack of vision for the downtown sector (yet again). You go to any other city in this country (from Halifax to Vancouver) and there are food trucks everywhere! People love them, they offer a great alternative to sitting down in a restaurant. I've tried Mr. Smith's product and it is AMAZING! I will be sad to see him and his truck go. It's really too bad that the Council has backed him into a corner that he can't get out of. I know that there are two sides to every story, but what they did to him seems like a clear abuse of their power. Good luck, Steve!