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The street food conversation goes on... and on

About 50 people turned up on March 5 for the latest in a seemingly endless procession of consultations, amendments, rule changes and other perambulations regarding the city’s policy in street food.

According to Carlton Grant, director of policy and strategic support with municipal licensing, the main sources of concern included the cost of running an operation and the rule that disallows a vendor from being within 50 metres of an open restaurant or on any side street.

The latter restriction means that spots where people gather for food are the precise places new, untested vendors are not allowed to sell, and the former means that the very reason for street food’s success in cities that are known for their street food — that it’s cheap and home-made — is unlikely to become a reality in Toronto.

Unless these consultations end up carrying more weight than the Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), whose members include those restaurants and their buffer zones.

According to Grant, a permit to sell food on the street costs $5,066 for a year, or $13.88 a day, plus the cost of hourly metered parking.

“We'll take the information that we heard from the various industries, food trucks, food carts, restaurants, BIAs and the public and continue to refine the city's street food program,” Grant says. “We're considering potential improvements to the program to create further opportunities for vendors including a 6 month or a 9 month permit, increasing the time a food truck can vend to 5 hours, adding Green P parking lots over and above the 58 commercial parking lots we made available last year and including pay and display parking spaces on collector streets.”

Currently, there are just 17 food truck operating in the city, in addition to 39 ice cream trucks, a number that may rise if the public’s concerns make it into the recommendations.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Carlton Grant
Photo: Richie Diesterheft
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