Vancouver looks at expanding food carts to off-street sites

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.

Comments (17) Add New Comment
Maybe City Council should move to Portland.
Rating: +14
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.
Rating: -27
about about food carts in east van...or burnaby...or north and west vancouver
Rating: +1
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?
Rating: -2
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!
Rating: +8
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.
Rating: +6
Steve v.
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.
Rating: -3
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.
Rating: 0
Portland is stuck in the 1990s. We'd be better off looking at 21st Century cities for Dubai or Shanghai.
Rating: -5
I know...put them in the bike lanes. No one uses them these days.
Rating: -18
Eric Doherty
It is time to start plugging in the food trucks, and unplugging the stinking gas generators! This will be particularly important if they are clustered together.

It is OK to try out a location and allow generators on a trial basis, but once it becomes permanent it is time to wire up to that low-emission electricity already running to every street light in the city. The sweet smells of street food should not be overshadowed by exhaust fumes!

PS. Most food trucks could do just fine with one 15A circuit for an exhaust fan & lights.
Rating: +12
I am proud of our entrepreneurial food carts - excellent products, great beginnings for budding businesses and not a greasy hot dog in sight. This program helped a lot of Vancouverites after the recession. Vision Vancouver may ruffle a few feathers but at least they are doers, not whiners!
Rating: -1
Lee L.
No. They are not whiners, they are zealots.

Walk their talk or close your cart.
Rating: +2
Mimi G.
What about at a dog park like the Fraser Lands or the parking lot at the former Fraser Arms, or even parked on Granville Street in Marpole? We South Vancouverites would never get a chance to go downtown for lunch....
Rating: -12
i like the pod concept, especially when i see vacant lots like the one at robson & broughton. i know that one isn't exactly central nor level but there must be other sites that can be procured. either that or expand the density of carts at the Art Gallery or along Granville or Water Sts. it's not like the movie/tv industry trucks are clogging things up anymore.
Rating: +1
Food carts just mean more garbage from their throw away containers. Also would like to enjoy being outside without having to look greasy stinky food carts and their mostly overweight customers getting in the way.
C'mon folks, go for a bike ride or a walk with an apple in your pocket-you'll be a lot better off.
Rating: +3
Can anybody tell me where can applicants to apply for the license?
Rating: -5
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