As residents of Toronto who are founders of new organizations, small businesses and non-profits involved in the City’s growing food movement, we want to write in support of opening up Toronto’s street food. We are some of the little guys in food doing new things, and helping others to start small businesses and create opportunities
We've often seen entrepreneurs face City rules that hinder rather than help us to create opportunities and jobs. That’s why it is exciting to see new street food policies that would finally harmonize by-laws across the City to allow for easier access to sell diverse food. Until now, there’s been nothing but red tape.
We hope to see policies that allow new street food adopted at this week’s Council meeting based on the street food study approved at Licensing and Standards Committee. But we have two concerns:
A) The proposals keep a moratorium on any new food carts downtown, and B) they allow a single complaint to immediately deny a new food truck or cart, with appeals going to Community Council.
Many of the new vendors we work with won’t be in a place to spend tens of thousands on a food truck. Meanwhile, residents, workers and tourists downtown want opportunities to try diverse foods, more than hot dogs, on the street. Torontonians are making incredible food. Young people and new Canadians should have the opportunity to start with a business with a cart and provide good food at good prices.
Since new trucks and carts already have to be a significant distance from restaurants, there should be a clear process for them that doesn’t lead to denial of approval after one objection. The proposed process with a denial being sent to appeal at community council would create time and headaches for everyone.
Therefore, we are asking that councillors amend the staff report as follows:
A) 11. That City Council lift the moratorium on R53 Sidewalk Vending Permits for all food vendors in wards 20, 27 and 28.That in these wards the City allow up to 20 new vendor permits to be issued for the 2014 season.
B) Chapter 740, Street Vending - Article II and Article III
That a notification of objection does not lead to a refusal of the application by the Executive Director. That Licensing and Standards will devise a process with clear and reasonable grounds for denial of permits that reflects issues of space, mobility, sanitation and related issues that can be studied by staff and reported to the applicant and objector, with opportunity for dialogue, amendments and an appeal process.
Thank you for hearing our voice on this issue. Please feel free to contact us with any questions on the matter, or ideas to create a better City through food.
Hassel Aviles, Founder, Toronto Underground Market
Hillary Connolly, Founder, Food/Craft
Sang Kim, Founder, Yakitori Bar and Seoul Food Co. and Windup Bird Cafe
Evis Chirowamhangu, Founder, Mnandi Pies
Vanessa Yu, Founder, FoodSpokes and CaterToronto
Paola Solorzano, Co-Founder, Santo Pecado
Adriana Pelayo Rubio, Co-Founder, Santo Pecado
Jonathan Mikhail, Co-Founder, Fourcorners Culinary Concourse Inc.
Catherine Carriere, Co-Founder, Fourcorners Culinary Concourse Inc.
Henry Faber, Co-Founder, Bento Miso
Jennie Faber, Co-Founder, Bento Miso
Darcy Higgins, Founder, Food Forward
The City told media that its report on street food would now in come in Spring 2014. The report was ordered by City Council for Fall of 2011. However, staff and councillors are working on a pilot for this summer under existing regulations.
The Star: Toronto food cart fight (front page GTA)
CBC Toronto News at 6: Street food fight
24 hrs (front page)
Toronto Metro: Sweet! Free fruit for all has passerby stoked
NewsTalk 1010: Illegal fruit stand used to push for better street food
Global News Toronto
CBC Here and Now (interview Darcy Higgins)
Radio-Canada Champ Libre (interview Sasha McNicoll)
NewsTalk 1010 Jim Richards Show (interview Darcy Higgins)
Torontonians lining up for street food in Grange Park at the Pop-Up Picnic
Thousands of Torontonians wrote city councillors a year ago to ask them to allow diverse street food to be allowed in Toronto. While the City allowed existing hot dog vendors to expand their menus, new carts and trucks are still not allowed to sell outside of event permits, and existing ones are facing all sorts of extra rules and costs.
A City Committee told us and the Toronto Street Food Project to be patient after we offered a few practical changes that would have allowed food on our streets last summer. They said a report to change policies was due in November, but nothing has come. While we realize staff may be busy, these changes can't draw on forever. Will entrepreneurs and eaters miss out on another summer?
Please e-mail your councillor again (with your address) to simply ask what they've done to legalize street food, and ask if we can't work together to make something happen this summer to animate our sidewalks, streets, and parks. Our friends at Cycle Toronto have a nice guide of your councillors' contacts and to find your ward: http://cycleto.ca/e-mail-your-councillor
Let us know what they say: firstname.lastname@example.org
Street food advocate Darcy Higgins told reporters that food trucks co-exist with restaurants in other centres.
“I just want to sell sandwiches,” said Matthew Basile, whose Fidel Gastro’s Cuban sandwich truck doesn’t have a permanent location.
Committee votes to send Street Food Project recommendations to Director of Licensing
“I will be operating out of a food truck within the next six months,” he vows. But Mr. Robertson tells me there is no public or private land in central Toronto zoned to permit Mr. Basile’s truck.
Darcy Higgins of the group Food Forward suggested that the city “allow refreshment vehicles and food vendors to vend temporarily in commercial parking lots for a period of up to four hours;” councillors sent that back to staff for study.
Food truck hubs in designated areas or parks can generate revenue for the city. The containers (such as the ones at Scadding Court) can be a platform for indie food entrepreneurs that don't have the money for a food truck, but want to test their food ideas.
I would like to see the City of Toronto work towards street food installations where we can consider restaurants, popups, and food trucks.