By Penny Coles | Niagara Advance
Paolo Miele admits he doesn’t have all the answers.
But he hopes council will respond to his plea to control food trucks in some fashion that is fair to “bricks and mortar” business owners.
Miele owns two restaurants in St. Catharines—one of those right at the Homer Bridge – and Good Eats Diner on Glendale Ave. in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
“I love the food business. I work seven days a week and I don’t mind competition from other businesses,” he said.
But the proliferation of food trucks, which “don’t pay a dime in commercial taxes,” is hurting “bricks and mortar businesses” who pay huge commercial taxes to NOTL, he told council Monday.
They also don’t have to meet the same health codes, don’t drive the town economically, and don’t contribute to the community in the same way that other businesses do, he said.
One solution he offered to equalize competition, tongue in cheek, is to eliminate commercial taxes for all NOTL businesses.
But since that’s unlikely to fly, he added, something has to be done to control food trucks and level the playing field for businesses which do pay taxes.
Whether that’s a licensing fee of $10,000, $40,000 or a ban on food trucks completely, he said, isn’t up to him to decide. He urged the Town to work in collaboration with stakeholders, including food truck operators, to come up with a fair solution.
He’d like to see equal opportunities for food truck operators and bricks and mortar businesses in NOTL, that would make sense to all, he said.
Town planning staff is working on a report on food trucks that should be ready for council and a further public meeting in the fall, Miele was told.
Public meetings have already been held to hear from both sides of the issue, with Miele echoing many of the concerns of other business owners.
But the Town is unable to control food trucks that are on private property, such as the many winery events they attend and the weekly farmers market on Niagara Stone Rd., he was told.
Food trucks are subject to safety inspections and regulations, and supporters say they provide a different experience, fill a niche market that isn’t competing with traditional restaurants and draw more visitors to NOTL.