Montreal's Fruxi - source
City consultation of street food is happening once again, with a review of the last year's new by-laws to explore additional changes. A presentation will be held with an opportunity for public comment:
Committee Room 1 at City Hall, March 5 6:30-8:30PM
Learn how to make a deputation here.
Food Forward is pleased with the City's review of policy, with additional recommendations to make it more viable for food trucks to operate in Toronto. We propose the following:
- Create a pilot project for 2015, allowing ten licenses for street food carts in the three most downtown wards. Currently no new food carts are allowed, however Torontonians and tourists are hungry for more options. With the number of hot dog carts dropping precipitously over the last several years, there are many available spots to try something, and food diversity is to be encouraged and in great demand.
- In addition to your proposed changes, such as the increased time a vendor is allowed to park, we encourage the City to allow food trucks to park within 25, not 50 metres of a restaurant, as is the case in Calgary and London (where a food truck license is $1,225), and to allow restaurants the choice to opt out of this to support collaborative opportunities.
- As we have in the past, we ask Licensing and Standards to work with us and others to explore licensing of other types of street food, in a way that would enable food access and support new entrepreneurs for those with small mobile food vending like carts, bicycles, produce stands, and mini-markets with locally grown foods.
Food Forward has worked with partners since 2011 to bring about changes to the City's street food environment, resulting in more opportunities and an increase in diverse street food in city streets, parks and private properties.
Check our TO Food Events Hub link above for information on what's coming up, including events with Building Roots and Food Nation!
Skate & Cider with Food Nation
At Skate and Cider, we'll be discussing a food justice vision for Toronto and sharing the Food Nation platform around a warm camp fire.
Date: February 21, 2015 Time: 2-4pm
Location: Duffering Grove Park (south of Bloor on Dufferin)
Feed Your Advocacy with Building Roots
Help Create Places to Grow, Cook, Buy, and Share Healthy Food
Date: February 23, 2015 Time: 6:30 - 8:00pm
Location: 35 Fairview Mall Drive, Toronto Public Library Room 1, First Floor
Every neighbourhood needs places to grow, cook, buy and share healthy food.
Read this in:
That means urban agriculture needs a big scale-up across Toronto. Same with commercial/community kitchens, food stores, markets, street food and community food hubs.
Our city is growing faster than ever, and so it’s time that all new housing and renewals across the City bring this needed infrastructure for new residents and for the existing neighbours.
The City can use existing policies and change a few, to make this a reality. It will require councillors, planners, agencies and developers to work together with residents to make it happen.
Toronto’s Official Plan, the big map for the future of our City, even calls for community and rooftop gardens, and states, “our future is one where adequate amounts of safe, nutritious, culturally acceptable food are available to all.”
So let’s get to work.
Along with a whole bunch of amazing projects and plans underway like the Urban Agriculture Strategy, these key items could get things growing.
Whenever there’s a consultation meeting on a new housing project, a condo or a renewal, Torontonians have to show up and bring food into the discussion. Most developers and planners don’t have food top of mind, but a City full of people who care about improving the food system can make it happen.
Look around your area with your neighbours and ask what’s missing. A food store? A community garden? Access to a kitchen? (Affordable housing??) Bring it up to the planner and councillor and see what can be worked in as Toronto continues to change. Learn how to do it here.
Plan it in
The City is undertaking neighbourhood plans all the time, including some major revitalizations. These need to suit the needs of current residents. Your feedback is critical to getting it right. And the City provides many ways to provide it and engage in the process.
When we “embed” food into these plans, we can actually get some real sway and results when things get moving. Residents in Regent Park raised their voice, it's in the plan and it's happening. Let’s prioritize our neighbourhood food needs in these neighbourhood strategies and follow-up to see that things come together, get them built and operated.
Follow the money
Section 37 is a part of the Planning Act that pushes many developments to lend money for community benefits, like park improvements. They haven't traditionally been used for gardens in parks or kitchens in community centres, but it can all be done.
Councillors, residents and planners need to know that these are options. In fact, a community garden and a new apartment food hub have recently been made possible by taking advantage of good chunks of these funds in Toronto thanks to some foresight. Let’s use what we can do to improve food access.
Green that building
Toronto is lucky enough to have the Toronto Green Standard which provides all sorts of rules and incentives to make new buildings much more sustainable than they would have been. Local food grown on site could give residents or neighbours a five metre diet, reducing food kilometres and farm run-off.
But again, food has been forgotten and is missing from the Standard. Let’s incent developers to green it up and work to build and support growing food (not just sedum) as part of new roofs and adjacent landscapes or parks.
Help push for change.
To get some more details and figure out how you can help make it happen, contact us or check out this advocacy overview.
For some examples and how to talk this up in a nearby development, visit our Building Roots Toolkit.
You can also help advocate for change by endorsing and volunteering with Food Nation and our platform (see point number 1!)
And don't forget to dig in! This'll all need a heck of a lot more urban farmers, facilitators and teachers to make happen.
Darcy Higgins is the Founding Director of Food Forward. He is a consultant with Building Roots, currently developing new urban agriculture, markets, kitchens and food hubs in Toronto. firstname.lastname@example.org