Parking lot pods of food trucks could be coming to Vancouver, if the city moves forward with a potential expansion of its street food program to off-street sites.
Vision Vancouver councillor Heather Deal said the city is considering allowing sites with a cluster of food carts, similar to the model used in cities like Portland.
“For this next phase of the food cart program, we’re actually looking for applications in the city where we can have a conglomeration of food carts, perhaps in a parking lot…it has to work for them business-wise, but it’s an opportunity that we’re looking at right now,” Deal told the Straight by phone.
“It’s an idea that’s often called the Portland model, which says that privately owned land-so it would be zoned for some kind of activity as opposed to the public realm-could be used to have something akin to what the Waldorf parking lot was,” she noted.
Deputy city manager Sadhu Johnston said the city is planning to launch a consultation process next month to determine interest in off-street food vending sites, and to identify potential locations where pods of food trucks could be set up.
The city will also start accepting applications for the next phase of the food cart program, including potential off-street carts, in March. Johnston noted the next phase will consist of sites outside the downtown core.
“We’re going to consult with the public to get a sense of where they might want a pod, do they like the pod concept, so we’ll probably launch that concurrently with having the next round of applications come in," he said in a phone interview.
“I think there are probably areas where there are a concentration of workers that maybe don’t have a lot of restaurant options or vacant spaces that the community knows might be an active spot for this… so we’re going to leave it a little bit open, and see what we hear from the public.”
In January 2011, Vancouver city council approved a phased-in expansion of the food truck program over four years to allow about 15 new carts a year.
Some downtown business owners brought concerns to council last month about the proximity of food vendors to their restaurants. Deal noted the expansion to sites outside downtown has always been part of the street food program.
“We’ve always intended to push out around the city and in fact we’ve worked with the Downtown Business Improvement Association very closely, as well as the food carts, to determine when the time came to start pushing out into the neighbourhoods, and this is the time,” she said.
Johnston noted there is no timeline for adding off-street sites pending the results of the consultation process, but he said a pilot project could potentially be set up within a year.