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Food Trucks

Should Toronto limit number of licensed food trucks?

Posted by Staff / March 14, 2014

toronto food trucksAs anyone who's been following the food truck controversy knows most truck owners aren't happy with the changes proposed in the latest staff report. While most of the noise has surrounded the licensing fees and BIA provision, there's been less attention given to what some local food truck owners think is missing: a limit or cap on the number of food trucks that should be allowed to operate on Toronto's streets.

Limiting the number of licensed food trucks might seem like an odd request at first. To have a healthy food truck culture in the city wouldn't we want to take on all comers? More variety and competition is good for consumer choice, right?

But some food truck owners see things a different way. William Randolph of The Feisty Jack, who just Wednesday threatened to quit, says that many truck owners have been lobbying the City to cap the number of new licences. Limiting the number of food trucks on Toronto's streets, he says, would help existing trucks be more successful and enable them to more quickly recover the losses some have incurred up until this point.

In short, Randolph suggests the City adopt the following changes:

  • Cap the number of food truck licences at 60 for the next two years. (There are currently 32 licensed trucks in Toronto.)
  • Allow trucks to park on city blocks, 2 per block, 25m away of an open restaurant. If the restaurant is closed, trucks should be allowed to park closer.
  • Eliminate the multiple licenses in favour of one license. Reduce the "cash grabbing" increase in price.

What do you think? Should Toronto cap the number of food trucks by limiting the number of food trucks able to get licensed?

Discussion

28 Comments

Diana / March 14, 2014 at 02:32 am
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I think that instead of "within 25m of an open restaurant" you meant to say "away from", right?

And what's the whole deal with a food truck 'cap'?! If they want to be treated like mobile restaurants, then why should they get a cap? Restaurants compete with hundreds of others, how hard is it for food trucks to spread out? If they want to create a food truck culture in Toronto, a cap at 60 would limit that plan significantly. I understand why he wants to do it, I just don't think it's fair for him to start being selfish and 'cover his losses' when every food business had losses this winter.
Too many cabs / March 14, 2014 at 03:07 am
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Toronto should limit the number of taxis. I don't see any food trucks yelling or honking their horns to solicit my business like the surplus of cabbies in this city do. Maybe instead of padding it's revenue for slush funds, the city should do what's right for it's citizens. Half decent food from good clean sources is something that's legit and should be left alone
flob / March 14, 2014 at 07:25 am
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Who cares. Clearly there are self interests here. Let them openly compete and be done with it. Just inspect them regularly for health hazards.
Kim / March 14, 2014 at 09:00 am
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Why would we limit the number of food trucks? We don't limit the number of anything else... like restaurants. And furthermore there shouldn't be restrictions as to where they can park. One restaurant can't stop another one from opening up next to it. Why can they stop a mobile one from stopping. As long as they pass the health code who cares.
Al / March 14, 2014 at 09:04 am
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Randolph is a businessman, trying to maximize his profits. Nothing wrong with that, but let's not frame it as some moral cause. He gives the game away by arguing, out of one side of his mouth, that the fee will make it difficult for food trucks to survive, while arguing out of the other side of his mouth that a cap is needed on the number of food trucks to prevent them from flooding the market.
E. Toby Coke / March 14, 2014 at 09:18 am
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I'm leaning towards "no, don't limit them." Let's shake things up with a free-for-all.

But don't kid yourselves, people. The BEST trucks won't necessarily be the ones who survive.
iSkyscraper / March 14, 2014 at 09:31 am
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I made an earlier comment but it involved a lot of cursing at Torontonians who won't get their head out of the sand, so the spam filter ate it.

Look, other cities have had similar problems. Learn from their experiences. Google is your friend.

Especially New York, which is the only other city with a cap and it has not gone well:

http://www.wnyc.org/story/214757-food-trucks/

http://stevespinello.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-food-truck-business-portland-vs-nyc.html
kitchen ticky marsala / March 14, 2014 at 09:51 am
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rumour in food truck backalleys is randolph of feisty jack is a troublemaker and hack chef who couldnt cook an egg right. this randolph trollop is trying to start a fight. and he aint coming to battle with his guns, oh no, he is a chicken turd using mark macdonald and the media to cause trouble for other food trucks. take this feisty jack-off with a grain of salt cuz he's all talk and no action. hot air. wimp. trollop. winey puff. talentless hack. foreign turd. i say pisss off randolph. leave our food trucks alone cuz you care bout you. no one else. arsehole!
foodie / March 14, 2014 at 09:54 am
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Nobody will likely have to put limits on food trucks in Toronto as many won't be able to thrive with all of the fees and rules. It's ridiculous doesn't Toronto have anything better to solve? How about getting a real mayor in place.
Rick / March 14, 2014 at 09:56 am
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Limits! Absolutely not i don't remember waking up in police state America where they impose limits on everything they do. This is Canada there is nothing wrong with being competitive its healthy for business.
Ezra / March 14, 2014 at 10:21 am
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As long as the cap is for no more than 2 years, I guess I would be for it. Let them get established for a bit then throw open the doors.
Ford Food Trucks / March 14, 2014 at 10:48 am
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Next November, Robdoug will be driving a food truck. It should only be allowed to park in front of Steak Queen.
Arturo / March 14, 2014 at 12:05 pm
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There should be no cap on the amount of food trucks. That just creates a system which favours pre-existing owners and ultimately allow them to charge higher prices.

The history of economic regulation is that do-gooders set up regulatory frameworks and businessmen come in and mold it to their business interests, after the do-gooders have left for their next fashionable cause.
Bay St. Guy / March 14, 2014 at 12:21 pm
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I generally agree with his comments with the lone exceptions of the first one on limits. Clearly self interested here and although all of his other points are made out of self interest, only the first one is to the detriment of the citizens of Toronto.
Commissary / March 14, 2014 at 01:17 pm
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Does Toronto need hundreds and hundreds more old diesel trucks idling, running noisy propane and diesel generators and pouring grey water in the sewer all so the "hip" and wealthy can have a deep fried octopus and cheese burrito whenever and where ever they want?
Does Toronto really want to see it's streets and parks lined with corporate fast food trucks?
Simon Tarses replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / March 14, 2014 at 01:20 pm
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As I just argued in a related article, Toronto isn't other cities in the USA, but different; we should embrace our differences, not just hop on somebody else's bandwagon 'because the other city's got it, so why don't we?' Let these food trucks operate in suburbanized Toronto (near parks, apartments, factories, construction sites, and the like) instead of making things hard for bricks-and-mortar restaurants in the downtown core.
TheFeistyJack replying to a comment from kitchen ticky marsala / March 14, 2014 at 01:22 pm
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Kitchen Ticky Marsala, you're use of the English language is astounding, I recommend you quickly apply for the role of Toronto Mayor as we desperately need someone with that level of public speaking.

The reason of why you must cap licenses in Toronto is simply a form of science, when you introduce a new species, in this case a food truck business model and let it roam, you introduce something new into the environment, without a 12 or 24 month cap on a huge amount of new trucks entering the market you present no time to study the effects it will have on the city landscape.

While being respectful to the cities current hardworking restaurant brick and mortar locations, this is a study they deserve to have done. If you suddenly allow 300 trucks to roam the streets of Toronto, you will have an issue which may come back to not only haunt food trucks (some who yet understand their own business model) but also restaurants and you will kill the movement by over saturation, imagine if you suddenly said 200 hot dog carts can park at City Hall... caution must be employed when dealing with unleashing new things into the city landscape.

And for the trucks that have existed for the past 2-3 years, longer then we have that are close to giving up and that have operated with both hands behind their backs, that have lost thousands of dollars in revenue and paid for countless assistant handlers licenses, inspections and upgrades to meet safety standards in the city they do deserve a chance to actually try and make a go of it without dealing with 400 new entries.

We are not saying cap licenses forever, we are saying that you must look at where other cities have gone wrong (many of which will claim that the fast and furious approach to releasing hundreds of licenses in city scapes has had a terrible effect on brick and mortars) would have been better off with a slow roll out allowing the proper time needed to study its effect and allowing people to adjust.

2 Cents.
Greaser / March 14, 2014 at 01:46 pm
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Smokes Poutine/Scotiabank are just trying to compete with MacDonalds....MLS is just hungry/greedy for easy licensing Gravy. Eat it up hipsters...
Jester replying to a comment from TheFeistyJack / March 14, 2014 at 01:59 pm
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Just quit already. You are making food truck owners look greedy and insolent. There are genuinely kind and decent people operating food trucks in Toronto who shouldn't have to be associated with your child like tantrums. Keep your 2 cents, it sounds like you will need it.
Dia replying to a comment from TheFeistyJack / March 14, 2014 at 02:06 pm
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Hey Feisty Jack, before accusing others of using the English language wrong, check your own disaster that a 5th grader would notice: "YOU'RE use of the English language is astounding".

You bring up great points now, but in the article you are cited saying that capping the number of food trucks would "would help existing trucks be more successful and enable them to more quickly recover the losses some have incurred up until this point", not to make a study of what's best for the city.

You should probably stop posting here, it looks bad for business ;)
President of Toronto Food Truck Association / March 14, 2014 at 02:20 pm
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Hear hear fellow denizens...as PRESIDENT of ALL Toronto food trucks, thou shall payeth me a TAX of fifteen rubles...umm...f#$k...I meant fifteen THOUSAND dollars. Also...make note that WILLIAM RANDOLPH will NO longer be president. He was a TYRANT...so we lopped off his testicals, fried them up...served them to mayor rob frod...who said they were "yummy"...then we threw WR in the dungeons...and peed on him for hours
MikeD / March 14, 2014 at 02:47 pm
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as someone who lived in nyc I agree with his statements, if you unleash hundreds of new businesses into any area the results will be catastrophic to existing business. Toronto should learn from other major cities before it makes the same errors, whatever the cap is it should allow for new and old to coexist, balance is never a bad thing
easeUP / March 14, 2014 at 03:29 pm
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I am the only person that finds food trucks way overpriced & hyped? I would love to grab a meal on the go without feeling ripped off. With no cap and comepetition, that just may happen.
Water into beer / March 14, 2014 at 07:12 pm
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Hey! Why stop with food trucks? How 'bout hot-yoga trucks? Hairdresser vans? Semi trailers converted into mobile squash courts! The bar bus! The bordello Winnebago! Law firm 4x4's, dentist trucks and...all with their engines running non-stop, spewing exhaust...in front of YOUR house.
Snake Oil replying to a comment from Water into beer / March 14, 2014 at 08:51 pm
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There are fashion trucks in Boston and Halifax already and there are trucks that sell doggy treats in Chicago and Calgary. There is a Proctor Gamble/Wal-mart Truck cruising around the states too. This revolution has corporate sponsors. How about mobile City Councillor offices? I hear Canada Post has some trucks for sale....
Perpetually AshamedCitizen replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / March 16, 2014 at 01:33 pm
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Food trucks are less important to Manhattanites than you could ever imagine. The drive for World Class Food Trucks is more of a West Coast thing. You couldn't ever even buy a hot dog on a street in Vancouver until recently. Now with Born Again fervour and zeal they are bursting with World Class Pride about massive diesel restaurants on wheels dishing out what is euphemistically called "Street Food". You can enjoy a delicious kimchi and seaweed tofu smoothie under your umbrella instead of sitting cosily indoors. Montreal hasn't been Born Again yet, and still won't even allow a measly hotdog steamé al fresco. I don't recall much "street food" in other non world class cities like London, either. Even though Toronto was the only Canadian city last century that allowed ANY street food, we should hang our heads in shame.

Shame is, apparently, our default setting.
Little Fury replying to a comment from Perpetually AshamedCitizen / March 18, 2014 at 12:36 pm
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Street food, of course, only being authentic when it consists of a dead dog grilled over warm coals in a ditch by a filth-encrusted pauper.
Perpetually AshamedCitizen / March 18, 2014 at 01:05 pm
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Oh, you mean "Street Food" as in exactly the same pulled pork "burrito" from a big diesel truck that you normally buy for takeout from exactly the same restaurant chain. I see, I was confused by which "Street food" we are talking about. Thanks for clarifying. Now I understand how Non World Class we are. I apologize for momentarily not being ashamed enough.

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