After being flooded with complaints from operators, the City of Vancouver plans to freeze food cart permits.

City staff are looking for a way to stop those who hold existing permits from renting out their spaces at exorbitant rates.

A co-owner of Big Dogs Street Hots said the company is struggling to survive because it rents its spots from other people who were originally awarded the permits.

Leaseholders can ask up to $10,000 per year, nearly 10 times the actual cost for a permit from the city.

City spokesperson Karyn Magnusson says that has to stop.

"This was a bit of a gap in the bylaw and that was never the intent to set up this resale opportunity of locations," she said.

She said the current process allows for a subleasing market and that was not the part of the city's aspirations. 

"We want to keep the spaces easily available and kind of a fair economic playing field for all of the permit holders."

Magnusson said city staff would like to see current permit renters, like Big Dogs Street Hots, offered permanent leases.

The staff recommendations, which include a freeze on permits this year, will go to council before existing permits are renewed in May.

In the meantime, she said, the freeze will allow the city to thoroughly review the process.

With files from the CBC's Chantelle Bellerichard and Robert Zimmerman