A peek into Toronto's (potential) street food change


We're almost there!

After working to change street food by-laws since 2011 (and some of our members working even longer), things are looking up. Since this time, City Council has so far changed policies to allow diverse menus by street vendors, and eliminated unfair fees for vendors to hire workers. More is on the way thank to literally thousands of your letters, voices, emails, tweets, petition signatures.

It is time that the people who cook our food have a more just system to sell whichrespects different economic backgrounds, cultures and opportunities... And serves the public who wants diverse and affordable options.

Natalia Martinez speaks to the media while handing out free fruit to people in front of Toronto City Hall on Wednesday, May 15, 2013. The "illegal" pop-up food cart was organized by Food Forward to draw attention to the city's antiquated street food rules. (Don Peat/Toronto Sun)

On March 18, councillors on the City's Licensing and Standards Committee will meet to review proposed by-laws that City staff and a several years-long working group have developed. The last few months have seen a much stronger consultation and development of policies leading to some proposals that could improve access to diverse food and food entrepreneurship

The highlights:

No new street food vendors have been allowed to sell in downtown wards 20, 27 and 28 for over a decade. The current proposal from City staff is to do away with that moratorium. Councillors will need to hear your voices in support of this change.

We need to see lots of new spots available for food carts to bring in opportunities for diverse food vendors. However the initial proposal is for only 10 new spots downtown and 10 elsewhere. Spots might be designated in a lottery system.

Street food will be allowed in any private property. Carts or trucks will only need a vendorsbusiness license, and they'll be able to work out any rental with the property owner. This so far has not been allowed in many cases - like in parking lots. It is quite a positive change. We'd like to help vendors connect with these new opportunities come spring if this passes.

City staff are wrestling with two options on food trucks - whether to allow them to stop on regular street parking, or to have a number of designated places to parking. Like food carts, they'll likely designate a number of trucks or spots to be allowed at first.

Restaurant owners need not worry, either way, food trucks will have to be 25 metres away from them. This is normal in many cities. 

If you have input or questions on these final policies, email Luke Robertson of Licensing and Standards at lrobert5@toronto.ca

Also consider emailing or calling city councillors with your thoughts. You can contact your own councillor, or start with those on the Committee which will be reviewing this first. 

You can also attend the public Committee meeting or even speak in support of positive recommendations on Tuesday March 18 at City Hall Committee room 1 (second floor) beginning at 9:30.

Bon appetit!