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City seeking public input on street food bylaw
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, January 14, 2014 10:35AM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 14, 2014 4:39PM EST
The city is looking to cook up a new bylaw on street food and it is reaching out to vendors and members of the public for input.
The first of two public consultations hosted by the city’s municipal licensing and standards division will take place in committee room one at city hall, beginning at 6 p.m.
The meeting is being held with the aim of generating new ideas for a bylaw that would help encourage a more “vibrant” street food experience, according to a notice posted to the city’s website.
“We are trying to get a greater experience of food culture and offer different (street) dining experiences and to do that we want to work with all the stakeholders so we can really come up with a solution that is something we can be proud of,” Director of Policy Carlton Grant told CP24 Tuesday afternoon. “The two main things we have to do, though, is protect the health and safety of the consumer and make sure we understand the impact on the public realm. We must make sure city sidewalks and streets are used in a way that allows for pedestrian, traffic movement and great food experiences.”
Toronto has been criticized in the past for strict regulations on the street food industry that restricts the types of food that can be sold curbside and outlaws food trucks in most parts of the city.
The city did try to address the problem with the launch of the "A La Cart" program in 2009, but that initiative was later panned due to a long list of rules that restricted what vendors could sell and mandated the use of a specific cart provided by the city.
“I think we need to remove some of the red tape and the restrictions and then let the market determine what residents want,” Ward 15 councillor and street food advocate Coun. Josh Colle told CP24.com Monday. “I don’t think the city or any other government should determine what people serve, how the market it or even how they house it. It is just a matter of unlocking the market and then staying away.”
Food trucks are currently prohibited from operating on public streets in most parts of the city and aren’t allowed within 25 metres of a restaurant serving similar food.
Meanwhile, sidewalk carts are limited to selling the typical barbecue fare as well as a few other items such as vegetables, packaged fruit and bagels that were recently approved by council.
“A good street food scene can really animate the streets and it can bring such life to a city, which is a good thing for tourism and for people that live here. It is also just good food. This isn’t just an alternative to what we have now; it is gourmet and trendy and hip and all that type of stuff,” Colle told CP24.com. “There is just so much potential with this and we just have to make sure we are not hindering it.”
Staff will report to the licensing and standards committee on the results of the consultations sometime this spring.
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