Food trucks face washroom/exclusion zone rules

The City of Charlottetown has clarified its new regulations regarding food trucks in the city.

Summerside welcomes food trucks

Ken's Island Fries was successful in getting a permit, and operates in the parking lot of the Charlottetown Canadian Tire. (CBC)

The City of Charlottetown has clarified its new regulations regarding food trucks in the city.

Two operators were surprised this week when they were denied permits to operate in the downtown. The city has adopted new rules this year in connection with the operation of food trucks and other temporary food service locations.

The regulations are based on a 2012 Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association study. They include an exclusion zone of 100 metres from an existing food service establishment, and a requirement for proximity to a public washroom.

The P.E.I. Restaurant and Food Services Association supports the new regulations. President Carl Nicholson said mobile food vendors are a concern to restaurant owners across the country.

"Why are operators allowed to be treated differently?" said Nicholson.

"In some of the rural areas, there's opportunities for food trucks to kind of pop in, you know, satisfy a niche. Maybe there isn't  a normal operation that's not going to provide that year-round employment."

A Summerside welcome

Charlottetown's approach is in direct opposition to Summerside's, which has made a decision to encourage food trucks in the city.

Summerside Coun. Cory Thomas says his city welcomes food trucks. (CBC)

"The City of Summerside, we want to reduce red tape," said Coun. Cory Thomas.

"We want to encourage these sort of businesses to come, but we want to make it a level playing field for everybody as well."

Thomas said a licensing fee in the city compensates for the lack of property tax paid by the mobile food vendors.

Caron Prins, owner of the Chip Shack, one of the two operators denied a permit this week, said she is heartened by the support she has received from both customers and local restaurant owners.

"Twitter frenzy going on right now," said Prins, as she scurried Wednesday to keep up with demand the publicity has brought.  

"I've had offers to move my shack, I don't know how many times. I want to stay here."

Charlottetown restaurant Terre Rouge has posted a message of support on its Facebook page.

Prins said she has been speaking with some city councillors and she will be meeting with the planning board, in the hopes it will reconsider her permit approval. She said she will continue operating the Chip Shack until someone stops her.

City of Charlottetown news release

The City of Charlottetown recently amended its Street Vendors Bylaw to accommodate food trucks and mobile canteens in the Downtown Core, subject to review by the Planning Department.

The Planning Department has deferred to the Restaurant Canada guidelines for food truck/mobile canteen applications. These guidelines support the expansion of food truck licensing with the following conditions (based on a 2012 Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association study):

1.       Food trucks must meet and follow the same regulatory requirements as restaurants including food safety, signage, solid waste separation, waste water disposal, and the ability of washrooms for staff and the public

2.       Food trucks should only be located in under-serviced areas. Food trucks are prohibited from locating directly in front of or adjacent to an existing restaurant and have a buffer zone of at least 100 metres from existing foodservice establishments.

When processing applications that have been received for this year, several factors including the Restaurant Canada guidelines, are being taken under consideration before making a recommendation to Council regarding mobile canteens/food trucks:

  • Are there existing restaurants within 100 metres of the proposed mobile canteen?
  • Is there any opposition that needs to be evaluated from established tax-paying businesses or other members of the public?
  • Will the proposed mobile canteen be on private property?
  • Are there any regulations/guidelines for the area where the mobile canteen will be located (ie: Heritage design guidelines)?
  • Has the Department of Health reviewed and approved the application and the mobile canteen/food truck?
  • Is there a public washroom facility within 100 metres of the proposed mobile canteen?
  • Is the applicant applying for an area that is under-utilized and under-serviced by the foodservice industry?
  • Will the mobile canteen be in competition with established businesses?
It has come to our attention that one of the recent food truck/mobile canteen applicants may ask Council to reconsider its decision, so we won’t be commenting further at this time.