April 21, 2015
The Toronto Star
Food truck vendors have made a bit of progress in their fight to increase the places they’re allowed to set up shop to sell tacos, rotis and other fast-food delicacies.
On Tuesday, the city’s licensing committee agreed to dial back the most contentious restriction, one that dictates how close a food truck can park to a standing restaurant.
The six committee members voted 5-1 to approve a motion introduced by Councillor Josh Matlow to change that distance from 50 metres to 30 metres. Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti was the only member to vote against the motion, which still needs to be approved by council in May.
“The action that we took today liberalizes our city’s regulations with regards to food trucks and it allows for new creative food diversity on our streets,” Matlow said after the vote. “It was important to me, and I believe the mayor, and the majority of members of the committee, that if it was possible to bring parties together rather than create a street fight over street food, that that would be our preference.”
It’s a minor compromise between those representing the interests of restaurants and food truck operators, which have failed to agree on co-existing within the downtown core.
Those like food truck advocate — and restaurateur — Zane Caplansky say the 50-metre rule essentially excluded food trucks from the downtown core, where they are likely to find the best business. Since the city enacted new rules for food trucks a year ago, only 39 vendors signed up.
Caplansky and others have argued that there is no evidence food trucks will cause the death of brick-and-mortar restaurants.
“I don’t love it, but I think my members can live with it. It’s progress,” Caplansky said of the newly proposed 30-metre rule. “With the commitment to report back in another year, hopefully we can show that the sky doesn’t fall with 30 metres and we can go for 15.”
It was estimated by both sides that the number of available spaces that could open up with a 30-metre rule is between 650 and 1,200 — including some on Victoria St., near Ryerson University.
Tony Elenis, president and CEO of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association, says it is a struggle to make a profit in the restaurant business in this province.
“Everything attacking the restaurants means less dollars to the bottom line,” he said. “We are happier at 30 metres than if it was 15 metres, absolutely, so we will move forward and see what happens with it.”
Mammoliti said after the vote that he is the “only one against creating chaos in the city.”
The committee also approved staff recommendations that would allow seasonal pricing for licences and allow parking in city pay-and-display spots.
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