by Colin D’Mello | 680News.com
TORONTO, Ont. – Street vendors who were cooking up ethnic dishes for Toronto’s failed A La Carte program are considering serving lawsuits as their next speciality.
“It was a project designed to fail,” said one city councillor, on Wednesday, after the street vendor program got caught up in red tape, and crashed and burned.
Vendors are now saying they want some money back or they will sue.
Kathy Bonivento, who grilled souvlaki on Queen Street, spent $90,000 on the venture. She said her cart had a flawed design and was too heavy to carry around.
“I’ve destroyed my family, I’ve destroyed my family’s finances with this project,” she cried. “The whole thing was a scam as far as I’m concerned.”
“I don’t like feeling victimized, I’m not willing to be a victim, and I’m going to empower myself by going after them,” she told 680News, adding that she wants $50,000 in compensation from the city.
“We can’t walk away from this. This has been so damaging and unfair. We have to take legal action,” she added. “If I can get my money back, I’d be ecstatic. I’d walk away and never do business with the city again.”
The city originally promised an increased street food plan in 2007. The program was launched two years later when eight vendors were given licenses to sell Indian, Greek, Korean and other cuisine.
However, they were forced to use city-approved carts, costing $30,000 each and weighing 455 kilograms. They have provided a range of health and safety issues for users. In addition, vendors were required to pay thousands of dollars in annual licensing fees.
City Councillor Norm Kelly said results like this are to be expected.
“What’s the old Roman expression? Buyer beware,” he told upset vendors on Wednesday. “I’m sorry it happened to you, but that’s business.”
The city has now told vendors they don’t have pay rent for three years, but many vendors said they may not even operate.