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cityscape

Food Trucks Find a New Home Downtown

Toronto's travelling kitchens work around City's strict regulations.

Food truck regulations may be keeping some vendors off the streets, but City Hall can’t put the brakes on vending in private lots. The city’s first food truck alley opened for business yesterday in the parking lot at the corner Queen Street East and Jarvis Street. Vendors will be serving up lunch from Wednesday to Friday throughout the month of July as part of a trial run of the concept. If the idea catches on with customers, the location could become a permanent address for itinerant kitchens, with expanded services and even weekend parties.

The plan was devised by Will Randolph, owner of The Feisty Jack, who was inspired partly by Hamilton’s food truck alley and partly by frustration with Toronto’s highly regulated food truck industry.

There was excitement earlier this year when city council decided to take a look at the issue of food trucks and seemed poised to relax its stringent regulations. When in April the issue came to a vote, however, the City acted with trademark timidity: a maximum of only 125 food truck permits will be issued over the next year, at a cost of $5,000 each (only a handful have been sold so far); trucks can park for just three hours at a time, with only two trucks allowed per block; and, worst of all, food trucks are debarred from setting up shop within 50 metres of any restaurant—essentially excluding them from streets in the downtown core.

The new rules met with criticism from operators, some of whom accused council of caving to restaurant industry fearmongering. But Food Truck Alley could prove an effective way for frustrated owners and patrons to regain some ground. Check out the Toronto Food Trucks website to see who will be vending at the Alley this week.

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