By Mike Donachie | Metro News – London
Downtown food trucks are back on the menu for London, but an appeal has been made for them to serve up benefits for local businesses.
The food truck pilot program that caused controversy last month, and was criticized as too limited in the number of trucks and sites allowed, is back before a council committee on Monday in a new form.
This time, the pilot won’t set locations or truck numbers in advance. Instead, it will consider each proposal on its merits, with advice from a panel of local food-industry experts, expected to come from places like Fanshawe College.
According to Michelle Navackas, manager of the Western Fair Farmers Market, ideas put forward for roadside offerings have included pulled pork, fresh fish and even a menu built around the paelo diet.
Navackas, who also works for Fire Roasted Coffee, said the company “would be silly not to” get involved in the food trucks initiative.
She welcomed the changes to the initial plan, which she said was “too restrictive,” and welcomed that the new pilot will be open to all.
But, Navackas is hesitant about “corporate trucks” having “carte blanche” and using their bigger budgets to dominate.
Her research into other cities — notably Brookline, Mass. — revealed a points system can be introduced to make sure innovation and a local focus are rewarded, and “allow local volunteers to get ahead”.
Brian Blatnicki, a London marketing consultant who describes himself as a “supporter of local and sustainable food,” agreed.
Blatnicki is calling for a scoring system where smaller businesses are given an advantage over larger chain restaurants.
He suggested extra points would be given to applicants who are local independent businesses, have menus with variety, and use local ingredients and a level of culinary innovation.
“I understand that it’s a little late in the game because it’s a pilot, but I think that’s something we could look at a little down the line,” he said.
“I can foresee some of the bigger chains who have larger budgets putting these trucks on the road and applying for licences.”
Licence applications will cost potential food truck operators $1,945. The city’s first proposal would have meant charges of $959, but the increase is needed to cover enforcement costs, administrators say.