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Building a Food-Truck Paradise in a Parking Lot

Well, maybe not paradise—but thanks to new City staff report, it's possible you'll soon have more access to late-night poutine.

If there is one thing at which Toronto the Good really excels, it’s using unnecessary laws to resist change: so it should be greeted as a sign of (slow) progress that City staff has recommended to the Municipal Licensing and Standards Committee that Toronto’s food trucks now be permitted to sell their tacos, deli sandwiches, and poutine from one of 58 appropriately zoned parking lots within the city.

The recommendation comes from a staff review of Toronto’s street food options, which are widely seen as lagging behind those of more adventurous North American cities. Toronto’s A La Carte food cart project was a spectacular failure, but restaurants and residents still resist more relaxed laws intended to accommodate the vendors.

The staff recommendations reflect this tension, and include very specific rules as to where food carts and trucks can sell. No vendor can sell within 30 metres of a school or place of worship. No mobile vendor can sell within 50 metres of a licensed eating establishment during operating hours. No more than two food trucks can be on the same block.

Through GIS mapping, the City identified 350 opportunities for new locations, and they project they’ll double the number of licenses issued next year from 150 to more than 300.


  • SoB

    There is/are food truck parking lots in Austin, Texas. Doesn’t seem like anyone was getting hurt from my perspective – the nearby bars and restos had patrons and the trucks were doing business so….

  • Mark Dowling

    740-14. Designating Mobile Vending Zones

    “C. Upon receipt of an application, the Executive Director will notify businesses within 25 metres of the outermost perimeter of the Mobile Vending Zone, the Board of Management of the local BIA and the local Councillor, indicating they have fourteen (14) days to object in writing.

    D. Where a notification of the objection is received within the fourteen day period, the Executive Director shall refuse the application and notify the applicant, stating that the applicant may, within thirty (30) days of the date of the notification, appeal to the Executive Director in writing.”

    I wonder what % of applications will NOT be objected to by the BIA, and what % of BIA objections will be taken as holy writ by Councillors closely associated with BIAs?

    • torontothegreat

      This is what bothers me too. I’ve spoken with different business owners in the city who have had a really hard time getting permits to build patios because one of the “competitors” calls the BIA and their councillor and kicks up a storm.

  • Will Chef Z

    The food truck picture used in this story is actually out of business because of the red tape in Toronto, I find it funny that its used to promote this story.