Toronto’s stringent food truck policies could become the freest in North America

Toronto’s stringent food truck policies could become the freest in North America

Introducing: Hogtown Smoke (Image: Karolyne Ellacott)
 

After lagging behind other cities for almost a decade, Toronto’s sad food-truck scene may finally be about to flourish. Next month, city councillors will put forward a series of recommendations that could release the city’s truck owners the tangle of red tape that’s been impeding them for years. The proposed new policies would let food trucks operate freely on city streets, provided they park legally and stay 20-50 metres away from restaurants. This would be a huge change: food trucks are currently banned from most city streets, and they can’t sell on private lots for more than ten minutes at a time. Councillor Josh Matlow summed up the city’s breakthrough plans: “They seem to be turning some of the most draconian street food regulations in North America into the freest food truck policy on this continent.”

The recommendations come after months of consultations, including a public survey conducted last fall. There’s always been a fairly overwhelming public demand for curb-side snacks, so it seems like the Ontario Restaurant and Motel Association may be the only party that’s actually against the proposed scheme. They worry that food trucks will hijack customers from existing bricks-and-mortar restaurants. The specific details about the recommendations won’t be made public until mid-March, but councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon, a vocal food-truck advocate, is confident the changes will go through. “It’s going to happen,” she said. “Come hell or high water.”