Waterloo set to loosen food truck rules

It could soon be cheaper and easier to operate a food truck in the city of Waterloo, if amendments to current bylaws are passed, including a drop in fees and more locations where trucks can park.

Proposal would see fees would drop from over $2,000 annually to $450 or less

It could soon be cheaper and easier to operate a food truck in the city of Waterloo, if amendments to current bylaws are passed. 

The bylaws were created as part of a food truck pilot project in the city, which ran in 2012 and 2013. The proposed amendments to those bylaws, which will be discussed at a city council meeting on Monday, would see fees reduced from $2,217 annually to between $350-450. 

"Based on [food truck operators] concerns and what we felt was reasonable to immediately address under an amendment to the bylaw is the fees that they are paying in Waterloo," said Shamir Mehta, manager of licensing and standards for Waterloo. 

"We're proposing a fee range similar to that charged in comparable municipalities that have the same regulations in place," Mehta said. 

Kitchener to discuss rules next week

Waterloo's food truck rules differ from those in Kitchener, where a city council committee will be examining regulations next week. One food truck operator who is interested in working in Kitchener has called the proposed rules too restrictive and the licence fee too expensive.

Kitchener's current rules specify food trucks must be at least 200 metres from a restaurant. If proposed new rules are passed, that distance would drop to 30 metres, and trucks would have to be at least 90 metres from schools. 

In Waterloo, food trucks must be parked at least 10 metres from a restaurant, and 100 metres from a school.  

Food trucks in Waterloo also have the option to pay for a one-day licence, which in 2013 cost $171. If food trucks want to participate in special events, they must apply for a special licence for that event, but the city waives the fee.

By contrast, in Kitchener, food trucks would have to pay an annual fee, which would be $1,947 under the proposed rules. If food trucks want to participate in a Thursday night pilot program that would see up to three food trucks parked downtown, the truck operators must pay a $150 fee. 

Regulations also stipulate areas in Uptown Waterloo where food trucks can park on a daily first-come basis, while in Kitchener, food trucks must be part of a special event in order to park downtown. Proposed new rules would see food trucks on Mondays for lunch events, Thursday evenings and for festivals and special events. 


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