Monday, April 28, 2014

London Food Truck Pilot Reignites Debate

London Food Truck Pilot Reignites Debate
The  London Food Truck Pilot reignited debate and Community and Protective Services Committee   voted 5-0 to refer the food truck pilot proposal back to a special meeting before council next week. The issue has been debated across the city since last spring. Among the more disappointing proposals was a recommended cap of 12 trucks and a lottery for licences. Many councilors remained hesitant about the pilot program going forward as written. The entrepreneurial spirit of food trucks and the importance of diversifying our street food culture seems totally lost on most of the Council.
Last year London City Council agreed to get public feedback on a proposed program to allow food trucks. The proposal worked its way between city departments for months and has been refined and revised along the way to avoid the bureaucratic red tape that plagued Toronto’s food truck initiative. The City  agreed to  liberalize their initial food truck plan, and is proposing a much less restrictive version that seemingly balances the interests of stakeholders. As of this writing it is expected that a new food truck licence will cost a vendor $1,225.00.

Initially, the City Policy Coordinator stated that an impartial food truck advisory review panel made up of local food industry experts was expected to provide knowledgeable opinion and recommendations regarding food truck strategy in London. In addition, the panel was anticipated to be charged with encouraging culturally diverse and original menu offerings, and endorsing the promotion of healthy eating. But the latest report that went to politicians stated that menu-vetting (read micro-managing) is too complicated to be part of London’s food-truck plan. 

Under the new proposal, City staff will be able to designate locations based on such things as proximity to restaurants, schools and neighbourhoods. There will a 25-metre buffer zone separating food trucks from existing restaurants. Food trucks will also be required to keep their distance 100 metres from schools, and vendors will be required to keep a log of their whereabouts.  Food trucks will be required to close for business between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. Food trucks are subject to standardized health and safety regulations and inspections.

The proposed food truck by-law amendments appeared to provide reasonable recommendations and safeguards making the pilot much more accessible to entrepreneurs. However, it is still too early to try to define what the food truck streetscape will look like and if there will be any significant changes to the pilot proposal.



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