View the eight street food objectives we would like City Hall to make a priority.
1. Are food trucks and food carts the same?
Food trucks and food carts are sometimes used interchangeably but they are different vehicles with different restrictions as a result of their design and municipal regulations. Food trucks operate on roadways and food carts are located on sidewalk space. Both operations need to meet DineSafe Public Health Inspections.
A food truck is a mobile restaurant, which meets the requirements of a stationary restaurant kitchen. To become city approved, a truck must have a hand-washing basin, hot and cold running water and a two-compartment sink for utensil sanitation. The truck would also need mechanical refrigeration and an adequate ventilation system.
A food cart must also have hot and cold running water and a three-compartment sink. Food carts may also have mechanical refrigeration and the capability of preparing and selling a wide range of foods on-site. However, although Provincial regulation changed to permit a wide range of food options, the City of Toronto is yet to enable this. As a result, food carts are currently only allowed to reheat pre-cooked food such as hot dogs and hamburgers from another established manufacturer which has already been inspected by Toronto Public Health. Cooking and preparing the food would have to take place in a kitchen licensed by the city.
2. Isn’t there a Street Food Working Group working on this?
Yes. A Street Food Working Group was formed in 2011 to review Toronto’s street food vending. The working group includes representatives from Economic Development, Transportation, the Street Food Vendors Association, Planning, Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, A La Cart participant. They were scheduled to report back toward the end of 2011. Although this is a good start we think that street food needs political will to move faster.
3. Doesn’t street food take away from business in brick-in-mortar businesses?
Generally, these are two different eating experiences. One is sit down and one is to-go. Additionally, you can regulate that you can’t have a street food vendor sell the same food as a brick-and-mortar business within close proximity (e.g. must be more than 50 from a fixed address selling similar food).
4. Street food vendors don’t pay taxes so why should they have rights?
Street food vendors pay annual fees and contribute to the City’s tax base. They don’t pay servicing fees but this is also because they do not receive the same municipal services as brick- and-mortar businesses such as garbage collection, water etc.
5. What are the benefits of street food?
- Employment opportunities, particularly “port of entry” employment and small business growth
- Enriched and enlivened street scene
- Make the city more appealing to visitors
- Opportunities to showcase cultural and culinary diversity
- Ability to bring food retailing to areas lacking bricks and mortar restaurants
- Ability to animate streets when brick-and-mortar businesses are closed
- Provides “eyes on the street” which increases safety in the public realm
- Can provide readily accessible outlets for affordable food
6. Won’t street food carts clog up the pedestrian realm?
It is understood that adequate space is required to allow people in various mobility capacities (on foot, wheelchair, baby carriage) to move along a sidewalk. In addition, space is required for street furniture such as garbage and recycling receptacles, bus shelters, benches etc. But there is enough room for street food carts on streets too! In Vancouver, for example, a street food vendor identifies an area they would like to vend in and then they work with the city to determine an appropriate size cart to fit the space.
7. Will there be an increase in waste and litter on the street because of food carts and trucks?
They are required to take out all their garbage at the end of the day and provide garbage receptacles on site. Food carts and trucks are subject to the same legal fines for littering as anyone else in the city.
8. I’ve been to food truck events in Toronto so can’t food trucks already vend on parking lots?
Food Truck and street food meet-ups at places like the Street Food Block Party happen as one- off events and are permitted through special event licenses. There is actually a specific regulation in the Municipal Code, Chapter 545, Section 268 (g) that does not permit food trucks in parking lots.