By Contributor | CBC News
A Fredericton food truck owner says he’s astonished the city is still working on a way to allow more food trucks in public spaces after three years of pressure from businesses.
Jack Youssef, the owner of the Cheese Please food truck, said he’s heard of some progress as Fredericton is looking at a plan that might allow food trucks to set up in the downtown Garrison District.
While it is a step forward, Youssef said the city is well behind other cities when it comes to embracing the movement of food trucks to high-traffic areas.
“We are the capital city, we should be the benchmark. We should be the people setting the standards. We should be leading the way,” he said.
“We live in a bubble here. We enjoy good economic times even in the rough times for the most part for the province. We should be leading the way to other communities, showing them what to do, and food trucks is one of those things.”
The city does not have an official policy yet.
Youssef said one of his original proposals to the city was having four or five designated areas around the city to have a rotation of trucks.
Under this plan, the city could have earned some revenue by charging rent.
The food truck owner said he thought the city was receptive to the idea.
“They didn’t close the door on us. They didn’t shoo us away,” he said.
Mike Baldwin, the assistant director of information, improvement and innovation, said he could not speculate on when city staff could be asked to revise the bylaw regarding food trucks.
He said nothing is ongoing at the moment.
In the meantime, he said in certain areas that are zoned for commercial businesses, there is an opportunity to set up vending businesses.
Attracting people downtown
Youssef said allowing food trucks into the downtown and other areas would be a draw for all businesses in the area.
More people walking around would only benefit all restaurants, he said.
Until those rules get updated, Youssef’s Cheese Please truck is only in Fredericton during special events and occasionally when it finds a temporary home. People looking for some gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches have been able to visit his business outside Grimross Brewing on Bishop Drive in recent weeks.
Youssef said the problem with Fredericton is that bylaws do not allow a motorized food truck, only a trailer that is pulled by a vehicle.
So the business owner said the bylaw was designed for another time when people used pushcarts to sell hot dogs.
This means food industry entrepreneurs are leaving Fredericton to sell their products in other cities.
“We’re in Fredericton every once in a while, it’s quite sporadic,” Youssef said.
“For two days to three days a week, we go all the way to Saint John and we park there. We have a very loyal following there. We’re in Saint John only because it seems it’s a lot easier to operate there.”