April 4th, 2014
Eric Emin Wood
EYES ON YONGE & EG: Food truck operator Zane Caplansky, outside City Hall as council debated loosening restrictions on street food vendors, is ready to bring it to Yonge and Eglinton.
Food trucks are coming to Yonge and Eglinton after all — just not as many or as often as Ward 22 councillor Josh Matlow, who championed the cause, might have envisioned.
City council voted 34-3 on Thursday night to approve new regulations aimed at loosing restrictions for street food vendors on Toronto streets, paving the way for food trucks to set up shop in surface parking lots and pay-and-display parking spaces.
Matlow admits the new bylaws are not “everything that we wanted,” but calls council’s decision “a step forward.”
“I believe that after a year most people will see that those of us who love food trucks will enjoy them, and those of us who are concerned will hardly notice them,” Matlow said. “The world will continue turning, and at the very least there will be a new place on our streets to get a fish taco.”
The new laws, which come into effect on May 15, will allow two food trucks per block to set up for a maximum three hours a day, providing they do so at least 50 metres from open brick-and-mortar restaurants.
A controversial provision allowing business improvement areas and local councillors to ask the city for “restricted” zones where trucks are not allowed was included but will be revisited in a year, city staff told the Town Crier.
Popular deli and food truck operator Zane Caplansky, who had threatened legal action if the bylaw passed with the “restricted zone” provision included, said on Friday he was “not unhappy” with the new legislation, calling it a “baby step forward.”
Caplansky was the first food truck operator to announce his intentions of setting up in the Yonge and Eglinton area. But because he has found “very few places” other than in parking lots that satisfy the 50-metre rule at that busy intersection he says he has no plans of purchasing the $5,067 annual licence that would allow him to park his food truck on sidewalks.
He intends to set up instead in parking lots, where a parking fee is all that is required and the 50-metre rule does not apply. Caplansky said he is discussing with other food truck owners the possibility of creating “mobile food courts” with parking lot owners.
“You would have three or four trucks pulling up and sectioning off a quarter of the parking lot — and paying a premium, obviously, to do that — and then serving the people who want to come by on a regular basis,” he said.
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