Bylaws take bite out of food truck business in Mississauga

File: Food trucks are seen lined up in Toronto. Potential vendors in Mississauga say red tape restricts food truck growth in the city. (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star)

Restaurant owners and chefs in Mississauga say City Hall red tape restricts the potential growth in the number of new food trucks in the city.

Ontario Food Trucks chair Suresh Doss said he had personally consulted with six local restaurateurs or chefs in the past year and all of them decided to postpone their food truck plans because there wasn’t a pilot program for which they could easily apply.

“They had space to park the truck and it would be an extension of the restaurant,” the publisher of Spotlight Toronto told YourMississaugaBiz.com. “But they all retracted and said they had decided to wait until 2013.”

For many potential vendors, the current situation in Mississauga makes it incredibly difficult or expensive to serve from their trucks to the general public.

Since city bylaw 520-04 limits commercial vehicle parking to 30 minutes and most trucks require at least an hour to set up, many food trucks can only operate in Mississauga through events and special permits.

Relying on special events to float the business is not enough to sustain the trucks. Events like the Mississauga Waterfront Festival can require expensive vendor fees on top of costs for supplies, staff and transportation to the venue, making it hard to operators to earn revenue.

In June earlier this year, the city’s enforcement division started a pilot project allowing up to six food trucks to operate independent of the existing bylaws, allowing them to park for up to four hours, and permitting the owners and drivers to operate and be licensed. However, the new legislation required operators to obtain permissions from multiple parties, provide detailed plans for the truck’s operation and location and proof of inspection.

City director Mickey Frost said he could provide little information about the progress of the project, participants or location until its conclusion in February of next year.

Doss, who also worked at Microsoft Canada’s Meadowvale Blvd offices for three years, said for progress to really happen Mississauga needs a local champion with a plan to present to city council.

Doss proposed 5-10 zones mapped out with three food trucks each, that would regularly rotate areas, be available on Thursdays and Fridays for two to three months and wouldn’t compete with restaurants due to their location in “dead-zones.”

“Get feedback from everyone and formalize,” he said, “And I’m confident the city will bite.”

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