Montreal, CAN: City Suggests Food Vendors Might Be Allowed Back

This historic photo shows an old time Montreal food cart, which have now been long banned from the city.

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This historic photo shows an old time Montreal food cart, which have now been long banned from the city.

MONTREAL — Old time Montrealers might recall an era when hot dogs and French fries were sold from carts rolling around city streets.

But they’d have to be very old.

The city announced Wednesday that it will study the hygiene issue and other logistics involved in slowly dismantling the longstanding ban on food sold from carts on the street.

City of Montreal representative Richard Deschamps spoke of the possibility of seeing more street food vendors permitted to operate in the city.

“We’ve got specialties here in Montreal and we know that many communities have joined us in the last 25 years and they can bring their own thinking on the issue, we hope for that,” he said.

The Quebec Restaurant Association said it wouldn’t mind if two or three dozen food carts were permitted but would oppose any large-scale licensing of food cars.

“We think there’s enough restaurants in Montreal to feed the needs of the population,” said Dominique Tremblay of the Quebec Restaurant Association. “There is one restaurant for 295 people in Montreal, while the provincial average is 400 to one.”

The city will spend the rest of the year studying the hygiene and competition-related issues involved in the issue before issuing a decision on the future of street meats.

Montreal is the only major Canadian city with a strict ban on ambulatory eats, as street meats and other stand-up delights are only allowed at certain festivals or federal lands.

The ban apparently dates back to 1947 when Camelien Houde was Mayor and was strictly upheld by his successor Jean Drapeau whose abhorrence of all street commerce once even led him to try to ban newspaper boxes from city sidewalks.

However, a steady stream of would-be street food vendors have bitterly decried the law, including Louis-Raymond Maranda who was encouraged when the city allowed for boroughs to make up their own policies on the street food ban when the city was united on January 1, 2002.

The next year the downtown Ville Marie borough upheld the ban, citing fears that it would undermine the tax paying depanneurs and restaurants. They also feared that inspections would be difficult.