Toronto, CAN: Curbalicious Food Truck Owner Frustrated by Licensing Requirements

Curbalicious is a new food truck business that hopes to be coming to a curb near you soon.

By Danielle Marr  |  Cambridge Times

Brittney Pawlick, owner of Curbalicious awaits a permit to be able to become a vendor for the Bolton Farmers Market.
Brittney Pawlick, owner of Curbalicious awaits a permit to be able to become a vendor for the Bolton Farmers Market.

 Brittney Pawlick was excited to become a vendor at the Bolton Farmers’ Market, but she’s having trouble with the process and paperwork required to get her there.

Pawlick is the owner of Curbalicious, a food truck that boasts gourmet home-style cuisine curbside, with a rotating menu that follows the seasons.

The ultimate goal was to cook up fresh, original dishes comprised of produce acquired by the farmers at the market.

Pawlick, along with hundreds of other food truck owners, have been sweeping across the GTA as the concept has exploded in popularity over the last couple of years.

Unfortunately, regional municipalities have had a hard time catching up with the wave in terms of licensing and issuing permits, and the Town of Caledon is no exception.

Pawlick was approached in April by organizer Jith Dravin about joining the Bolton Farmers’ Market and she jumped at the opportunity.

“I thought it was a great idea and I asked them to send me the vendors application right away,” she said.

After returning the completed application, Pawlick received another call from Dravin explaining she would need to apply for a “Mobile Refreshment Permit” on top of submitting the vendor application.

Curbalicious is a new food truck business that hopes to be coming to a curb near you soon.
Curbalicious is a new food truck business that hopes to be coming to a curb near you soon.

“This is when the back and forth emails begin of me trying to get them to figure out a way to have a ‘special event permit’ or ‘temporary permit’ for the food truck at the Farmers’ Market,” said Pawlick. “We were not going to be vending anywhere else in Bolton or the Town of Caledon, nor before or after the hours of the market.”

Dravin explained that, “The bylaw requires her to have a mobile refreshment license and the whole process has been frustrating,” he said. “Unfortunately to sell at our market as a food truck, she had to go through all of the necessary permits and application process.”

Pawlick agreed to acquire the necessary license and considered the possibility of vending in other spots around Caledon, although this was not her primary focus – it was being a part of the farmers’ market.

And so she began to peel back the red tape.

The list of requirements included some obvious items (like proof of insurance) and some not so obvious items – one being a criminal record check including a vulnerable sector check, a copy of her birth certificate, and her MTO driving record.

If none of the other vendors at the Farmers Market require a vulnerable sector check, what makes Pawlick’s business so different, she wondered?

Glenn Blakely, manager of By-Law Enforcement for the Town of Caledon, spoke to what he believes to be the core of the issue.

“The problem with the bylaw is the one day events were not necessarily taken into consideration when it was written and reviewed,” he explained. “Are you going to require someone to spend all that money and go through this whole process for one day?”

At the moment, the answer to that question is yes, they are required to have the license in order to acquire a permit, and must swallow the lengthy process and necessary costs if they want to participate at events as a food truck in Caledon.

The bylaw requires food truck owners to submit an owner application of $220 and an operator application for $100 regardless of whether or not the owner and operator are one in the same, like in Pawlick’s case.

Criminal record checks can also take anywhere from two to 12 weeks to be returned, becoming cause for additional time and financial resources.

In Pawlick’s case, with her business registered in Toronto and her drivers license registered in Durham – determining where to get the record check and then waiting for it to be returned extended the application process well past the opening day of the Bolton market.

“I am at the point where I want to see if I can get my $220 back, eat the rest, and be done with it,” she said. “I am busy, my weekends are filling up, and even if I end up getting the permit after all of this, what do I do after Oct. 14 when the market is done? There isn’t really anywhere with a lot of foot traffic in the area.”

The Town of Caledon is not the only community dealing with licensing issues for food trucks, and Pawlick is the first business owner to raise questions about the potential for temporary event permits for food trucks in Caledon.

Hamilton has had success with a Food Truck Alley and recently approved a new pilot program allowing food service vehicles to purchase $50 daily permits to operate in select city parks this summer.

Places like Kitchener, Guelph, Barrie and Waterloo have also been making adjustments to their bylaws to make it easier and more affordable for these types of businesses to operate within their regions, but it hasn’t been a simple process.

“What we need to do is review this process and find an easier way to deal with vendors who want to be here on a one-off type basis,” Blakely explained. “This is one of the things that wasn’t thought of, and we would like to propose a transient type license for these kinds of permits to council.”

Unfortunately, even though Curbalicious has remained listed as a vendor on the Farmers’ Market web page since the season opened, the question remains as to whether or not market goers will actually get a chance to try Pawlick’s curbside cuisine in Bolton this year.

“It is so unfortunate,” said Pawlick. “I thought it would be great for the community. I believe it has the potential to be a great vending town, I love the area and the people and I think that they would love to have us.”