Toronto looks at doubling the number of food trucks

The ongoing saga of food trucks in Toronto continues as the city's licensing committee approved regulations on Tuesday that could double food truck operations, but many say the new rules do not change enough.

The battle of Toronto's food trucks continues

A Toronto committee approved new regulations for food trucks which will come into effect by summer if the bylaw passes. 3:11

The ongoing saga of food trucks in Toronto continues as the city's licensing committee approved regulations on Tuesday that could double food truck operations, but many say the new rules do not change enough.

The approved regulations would be in effect by the summer if city council passes a new bylaw and include the following recommendations from the committee:

  • That food trucks be at least 50 metres from a restaurant.
  • That food trucks be at least 30 metres from school property.
  • That ice cream trucks should operate temporarily on residential streets.
  • That stationary food carts operate on some city sidewalks.

The proposal wants the city’s current street vending bylaw to be relaxed, which would more than double the amount of food trucks licences granted to operators, going from 152 in 2013 to 340 this year.

“The path to a street food experience in Toronto that truly matches its celebrated diversity is through easing restrictions and creating opportunities for vendors to make their businesses easily accessible to the public,” according to the staff report.

Another issue is the exclusion zone, barring trucks from the space around brick-and-mortar restaurants.

Zane Caplansky, who owns Caplansky’s smoked meat restaurant on College Street but also operates a food truck called Thunderin Thelma, says the 50-metre rule will "ruin the food truck industry" and effectively keep trucks out of the downtown core.

“I don't understand why everyone is afraid of food trucks … if food trucks destroyed restaurants, wouldn’t we see that in any other city in North America?” Caplansky said. 

On the other side of the issue are various Business Improvement Areas, which would have the power to refuse trucks entry into their neighbourhoods. 

“We've got a lot of small business, some of them are food courts and kiosks, and some of them are small restaurants. To introduce anything further we feel is an uneven playing field,” said Janice Solomon, executive director of the Entertainment District BIA. 

Food trucks are currently allowed to operate in private parking lots and at events and not on city property.