Vancouver looks at expanding food carts to off-street sites

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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.

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RealityCheck

Feb 8, 2013 at 9:06pm

Maybe City Council should move to Portland.

Really?

Feb 9, 2013 at 5:59am

I remember watching the Food Network... watching overweight people in line at a park, going from food truck to food truck, and raving how great it is to find food everywhere you look. Essentially, this allows a food court in every park, and any large expanse of land. I really do not see a need to increase food consumption. When I go to the outdoors, I usually do not have the intent to pig out.

canali

Feb 9, 2013 at 10:57am

about time....how about food carts in east van...or burnaby...or north and west vancouver

ACMESalesRep

Feb 9, 2013 at 11:06am

RealityCheck: Oh, of course. Heaven forbid our Council look to other cities and adopt their best practices. Why would we want to do that when we have critics who clearly know more than anyone else in the world?

durrr

Feb 9, 2013 at 11:40am

City Council is fucking ridiculous. Why would they need to consult people. Just let people open food carts, if they succeed then it will be great. If they fail, someone else will try elsewhere. Vancouver is so damn uptight. Let us eat that street meat already!

NJ

Feb 9, 2013 at 1:46pm

My fella and I had a wonderful time visiting Portland a couple years ago. The food truck set-up that they have is fantastic and is one of the many reasons we'll be making a return visit. We still visited several pubs and restaurants for breakfast and dinner (and drinks!), but we really enjoyed our lunches at the food carts as we meandered around the city. Hence, I'm really pleased to read that city council is planning to expand this program. I think it makes our city more attractive to both residents and visitors alike.

Steve v.

Feb 9, 2013 at 3:27pm

Our last trip to Portland we ate at street carts for 4 consecutive lunches. It is actually a draw for us as tourists but unlike here the street carts have decent prices.
My gripe about Vancouver, and maybe Portland only has overcome due to volume,.. is if you don't work near the downtown core, only a small handful,... and the crappiest, can be found outside of the core. I'd like to see more license open up further out like Granville and Broadway,... or even just over a bridge or 2.

PDX

Feb 10, 2013 at 12:08am

As a Portlander I think I should point out one problem that is showing up, in an otherwise positive situation:

Criminals noticing that the carts do a cash business, have less "security" (like doors & counters, and large staffs) than building based businesses, and are convenient to get-away routes, have started targeting them.

I suggest giving that some thought when planning / regulating. I still think they're great, but having cash drop safes, visible police, and other such could keep them happier from the start.

RealityCheck

Feb 10, 2013 at 11:23pm

Portland is stuck in the 1990s. We'd be better off looking at 21st Century cities for inspiration...like Dubai or Shanghai.

Zippy

Feb 11, 2013 at 8:18am

I know...put them in the bike lanes. No one uses them these days.

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