Ottawa

City paving way for food trucks, pop-up shops

Food trucks could soon pull up to some of the city's most popular parks and pop-up shops could appear on sidewalks as Ottawa looks for imaginative ways to help small businesses survive the pandemic.

Part of effort to 'cut red tape' and help small businesses survive pandemic

The City of Ottawa is looking to expand where it allows food trucks during the COVID pandemic to include some parking lots at municipal parks. (David Thurton/ CBC)

Food trucks could soon pull up to some of the city's most popular parks and pop-up shops could appear on sidewalks as Ottawa looks for imaginative ways to help small businesses survive the pandemic.

Those were two of the ideas to come before the city's transportation committee Wednesday, a week after council agreed to give restaurants a drastic break on patio fees.

Coun. Tim Tierney, who chairs the committee, thanked Mayor Jim Watson for taking the lead to "cut red tape" for businesses during the pandemic.

"This isn't about taking away from brick and mortar," Tierney said of the food trucks. "It's actually to create more of a holiday experience, because we're going to be doing much more of a staycation here in Ottawa." 

In the past, the city has provided a limited number of spots in specific locations for food vendors to park their trucks. City staff are currently sorting out which parks are most suitable for the program, and expect to provide more details next week.

Staff can't say how many existing or new food trucks might want to set up, but they hope to allow them by early July, according to Laila Gibbons, director of roads and parking services.

"We are looking particularly at food trucks, those that have lost the ability to be at fairs or some of the events throughout the summer months, and businesses who want to open in a different capacity throughout the summer in order to get themselves through this pandemic, and through the tough times," she said.

The committee also approved allowing retailers to apply for permits to erect pop-up stalls outside their stores, where they can sell goods and take payments without customers having to set foot inside.

Such sidewalk sales are typically only allowed during special events. The fee for such a permit would be $62, in line with the reduced patio fee, plus a $340 application fee. Store owners would have to maintain a two-metre clearance for pedestrians, both for accessibility and for physical distancing.

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