Changes to the By-Law

 The calm before an intense meeting at City Hall.

The calm before an intense meeting at City Hall.

On March 3rd, 2015, the Manager of Policy and Planning for the City of Toronto held a meeting with food truck permit holders to gather feedback on what went well and what didn’t. The consensus from street vendors was that the 50 metre rule, 3 hour limit, and 2 trucks per block rules made street vending in the downtown core too restrictive.

The old fries trucks with grandfathered permits were there too, and they were lobbying against us. Their argument was against change. Their permits are in jeopardy in 2020, and they may not have entitlement to their locations. I feel for them, honestly, but it’s not like they own those spots. The city gave it to them a long time ago. Things change and people go out of business. Look at Uber and Netflix. Change is inevitable.

We all took turns speaking out. The main point that the food trucks were trying to make was to get rid of the 50 metre rule and reduce it to 0. Their argument was that food trucks don’t pose a threat to restaurants, and it is not the city’s job to regulate competition.

I never see this happening. It may seem like a 0 metre rule would be great for us, but in reality this would be chaotic. Can you imagine how angry restaurant owners will be if a food trucks selling the same food pulled up right infront of their restaurants? It just wouldn’t work. Legs will be broken for sure.

Considerations

How about designated parking spots downtown? This model works great in other cities. But Toronto doesn’t want to do this right now. What happens if there are 60 trucks and only 30 spots? The City will need to hire staff to regulate this. They are also not interested in allowing the Toronto Food Truck Association (TFTA) to become a self-regulated trade association to govern where food trucks can operate. So now what?

Well the hardest part was actually getting the bylaw approved in the first place. Now that it is in place, the regulations can be tweaked to improve opportunities for all vendors. To me, it sounds like the City is generally on our side. We learned that the following considerations are being proposed:

  1. decreasing the 50-metre rule
  2. increasing the amount of time that food trucks are allowed to vend
  3.  removing the limit on the number of food trucks per block
  4. amending the permits to be seasonal, and thus, cheaper than $5067
  5.  increasing the number of streets on which food trucks may operate

All of these are in our favour. We can work with this.

What Happens Next

At the end of the meeting, the Manager gave me his business card and said he wanted to hear more about what we had to say. So on March 10, 2015, Allen and I went to city hall and met with him to have a more in depth conversation.

It’s pretty cool that the City is listening to us. We feel a sense of responsibility for all the aspiring Toronto food truck owners out there. In the beginning, we just wanted to start a food truck. Now we are making a difference in how the street vending By-Law is amended, even if it’s just a little.

All we can really do is share our story and make suggestions. It’s up to the City Council to make the decision. Our future success is in their hands.

By the looks of things, 3 hours will increase to 5 hours, the permit will be offered at 6 or 9-months instead of annually, Collector Roads will be added as Mobile Vending Zones, and public areas like Parks could potentially open up for Food Trucks. There’s no word on decreasing the 50 metre rule, but we hope they reduce it to 25. We’ll find out soon enough.

The report to the Licensing and Standards Committee will be completed on April 21st 2015, and any by-law amendments will be effective in May 2015.

We are the curbside, a territory all our own.

In the meantime, Me.n.u Food Truck will be venturing away from our usual spot at University & College, and start touring all over Toronto. If you know of any spots where we could park that is 50 metres away from a restaurant, let us know and we will come to you. That is our promise.

Besides, we are the curbside, a territory all our own.

#WETHEFORK

See you on the streets!