Food trucks rally for looser regulations at City Hall
While city council debated the fate of Toronto's food trucks Wednesday, those food truck owners set up shop outside city hall, attempting to win some hearts and minds with fish tacos and brisket sandwiches.
Five favourite Toronto trucks - Food Dudes, Caplansky's, Hogtown Smoke, Randy's Roti, and Gourmet Gringos - set up camp in Nathan Phillips Square over the lunch hour. (Choco Churros cancelled their planned appearance due to generator issues.)
The rally, organized by a newly-minted coalition of 26 local food trucks, was an effort to show city councillors set to vote on new food truck rules that there's an appetite for an increased food truck presence on Toronto's streets.
The regulations, which were approved by the city's licensing committee last month, are looser compared to previous guidelines: They'd let food trucks set up in street parking spots or in parking lots, and would allow them to sell their wares from the same curbside spot for up to five hours. That is, unless they don't run afoul of the plan's most contentious rule: They wouldn't be allowed to park within 50 metres of an existing restaurant.
Food truck owners, frustrated by years of restrictions and red tape, have come out swinging against many of the regulations.
"We're trying to show city council how much Toronto wants food trucks to be able to go where we need to go, as opposed to the way the laws are now," says Scott Fraser, whose barbecue-focused Hogtown Smoke truck boasted some of the afternoon's longest lines.
"Everybody'll realize two years from now that we don't affect business - we help business," said Fraser, who also owns a brick-and-mortar Hogtown Smoke location in the Beaches.
"If you want to come and put a really popular food truck across the street from my restaurant, come on down. You're just going to bring more people in front of my restaurant. They may not eat there today, but they'll come tomorrow."
Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, who facilitated the event, said that while she felt the staff recommendations were a positive step, they were "still too restrictive.
"Have a little faith in your foodie entrepreneurs, and get them out there, the way they are in any multi-cultural, world-class city."