By Renato Gandia | Calgary Sun
From being listed under the city hall’s policy test kitchen for two years, a council committee has endorsed food trucks in the menu of regular Calgary businesses.
The Planning and Urban Development committee passed Friday bureaucrats’ recommendations to adjust a number of city bylaws that will help regulate dozens of food trucks that have been serving Calgarians’ varied palate demands.
Some of the rules during the pilot are being upheld while new ones have been adopted by the committee but could be changed in the future.
Food trucks aren’t allowed closer than 25 metres from an existing restaurant, which was the rule during the pilot phase of the program.
They’re also not allowed within 100 metres of a park or a school except in the downtown area.
James Boettcher, owner of Fiasco Gelato, one of the 45 licensed food trucks, told the committee the 100-metre setback is a bit stringent.
He said the 25-metre setback to restaurants is fine but the one on parks and schools poses a bit of a challenge that would hamper the new food truck industry in accomplishing some of the goals set when it was started.
“The idea was it would be so much more than just a concession on the street, it was more about creating a long term legacy of what Calgary is and how progressive we are and the great things we’re doing in the community and to add vibrancy to the area,” he said.
While there were numerous calls to lower the 100-metre setback, the committee didn’t recommend any changes but bureaucrats will monitor the issue and report to council in October 2014.
Mark von Schellwitz, Western Canada’s vice-president of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, endorsed the program but cautioned the city on some issues.
He said his industry supports the expansion of food trucks, but they shouldn’t replace free-standing restaurants that put more money into opening their businesses.
He also said the organization supports the expansion of food trucks on the condition that they meet the same regulatory requirements, especially when it comes to food safety and that they’re prohibited from operating directly in front of a restaurant.
Von Schellwitz also suggested a cap on the number of new food trucks being licensed annually.
Margie Hope, owner of Blam!Wich, told committee that there should be designated parking areas for food trucks so they don’t compete for space with other users.
Council still needs to weigh in on the matter.