Food trucks can soon park on Toronto streets (maybe)
Toronto food trucks could finally be about to enter the 21st century. Details of the long-awaited shakeup of the city's archaic street vending laws were released earlier this afternoon, giving a first taste of what might be in store this summer.
After months of consultation, city staff suggest tossing out several old bylaws and licensing regulations in favour of something a little more flexible. A new $5,066.69 (yep, and 69 cents) Mobile Food Vending Permit would be created, allowing food trucks to set up in many more places than the current narrow rules allow.
The recommendations will be presented at next Tuesday's licensing and standards committee meeting and passed on with possible changes to city council later in the year. Here are the highlights from the proposed new rules.
ALLOW FOOD TRUCKS TO USE PAY AND DISPLAY PARKING SPOTS
City staff say food trucks should be allowed to use pay and display spaces, lay-bys, and private surface lots provided the location is more than 50 metres from an open restaurant and 30 metres from a school or place of worship. The city estimates there are about 350 places that fit the suggested criteria in Toronto. Permit holders will still have to pay parking and meter fees, though.
As for Green P lots, the Toronto Parking Authority will study the possibility of allowing in food trucks over the summer.
LIMIT FOOD TRUCKS TO TWO PER BLOCK
If the rules are adopted as is, no more than two food trucks will be allowed to operate on a single city block at the same time. This idea appears to be an attempt to prevent sidewalk crowding and traffic congestion caused by parking vehicles but it could also force food truck owners to spread out across the city.
IMPLEMENT A THREE-HOUR TIME LIMIT
Food trucks will not be allowed to sit on prime spots all day. The new bylaw would require truck owners to find a new spot every three hours or risk a fine. Good news for people who like change.
GIVE THE LOCAL BIA AND CITY COUNCILLOR POSSIBLE VETO POWER
Rather than provide a blanket set of rules for every neighbourhood, city staff say the local councillor and BIA should be allowed to suggest no-go areas for food trucks. This could become a source of friction, especially if restaurant owners have sway of the decisions of the BIA. It could also give established business owners the chance to unfairly snuff out potential newcomers.
START VERY SOON
Provided the new laws are approved by the committee and city council gives the green light, the new food truck laws could be in place by May 15, just in time for summer. Any food trucks operating under the old permit must upgrade by December 31, 2016.
Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.