The controversy over new rules for food truck operators in Kitchener is heating up as a city committee considers them next week.
While council won't decide on the proposed set of rules until May, at least one food truck operator says she's finding the new rules hard to stomach.
At issue is a new a licensing fee of almost $2,000, plus a $150 event fee for every time trucks would set up for special Thursday night events downtown.
Previously, city staff had proposed food trucks be set up between 200 to 400 metres from existing restaurants. In the new proposed rules, that limit would shrink to 30 metres.
Andrea Kim and her husband Christopher started selling Korean food from their truck, West of Seoul, in September of 2013. She says the new rules would affect her bottom line and ultimately, the ability to operate her business in Kitchener.
"The fee is not only unreasonable in comparison to the fees of neighbouring cities, but it's unreasonable just because of the type of access we're being given," Kim said.
She and her husband have already bought a license to operate in Hamilton, which only cost them about $300 by comparison.
"If Kitchener isn't going to put something in place that is more workable for us, we're going to have to go to Hamilton and we're going to have to go to other cities," Kim said.
Kitchener Councillor Scott Davey says the high price is meant to help permanent restaurants compete against mobile food trucks, which don't have to pay property taxes.
"They're trying to strike a balance between what the people want and what's fair to the food truck industry versus making sure we're not hurting the local restaurant industry," Davey said.
Proposed new food truck rules
Food trucks will still be licensed as special events in Kitchener under modified rules proposed by city staff. Council had previously considered rules at the end of February, until a motion by Coun. Berry Vrbanovic sent staff back to the drawing board.
Here's what is included in the new rules being voted on Tuesday:
- Food trucks will be able to operate in McLennan Park, Huron Natural Area, Budd Park and Southwest Optimist Park, as well as Huron Business Park.
- Trucks must be set back at least 30 metres from businesses and 90 metres from schools, unless permission is given by the business or school to decrease that distance.
- Trucks are prohibited downtown unless they're part of special events and festivals, Monday lunch hours at city hall, Thursdays between 4:00 -10:00 p.m. at pre-determined locations, or one-off promotional events between businesses and the food trucks.
- Trucks would also be permitted downtown as part of a pilot program in the Civic District which would see between one to three trucks operate one evening a week.
- A food truck license to allow operators to set up on public and private property would cost $1,947, plus $150 per event fee. A license to operate on private property only would cost $1,051.