Ottawa, ONT: More Street-Food Spaces Proposed as City Looks to Boost Meal Offerings

In the mid-1990s, about 30 street spaces and 70 sidewalk areas were designated in the core of the former City of Ottawa. Today, 44 active designated spaces remain in the former city’s boundaries — 22 for trucks and 22 for carts. Photograph by: Mike Carroccetto , Ottawa Citizen

By NECO COCKBURN | OTTAWA CITIZEN

In the mid-1990s, about 30 street spaces and 70 sidewalk areas were designated in the core of the former City of Ottawa. Today, 44 active designated spaces remain in the former city’s boundaries — 22 for trucks and 22 for carts.
Photograph by: Mike Carroccetto , Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — As many as 20 more spaces for street-food vendors could be allocated as part of a proposed plan to boost the number and diversity of meals available on city streets and sidewalks.

And city staff want to explore opportunities for more food to be sold from trucks and carts on private property and at festivals, says a report bound for council’s community and protective services committee.

The proposed spaces would stop a significant decline in the number of food sellers on municipal streets over the years as the city stopped issuing new permits and eliminated “designated spaces” after vendors left the business.

In the mid-1990s, about 30 street spaces and 70 sidewalk areas were designated in the core of the former City of Ottawa. Today, 44 active designated spaces remain in the former city’s boundaries — 22 for trucks and 22 for carts. There are 35 vendors, nine of whom hold two permits, the report says.

With street food making “an impressive comeback” and providing healthy, local and diverse choices in many North American cities, it’s time to make some changes, staff say.

“The perception of street food has also evolved dramatically in recent years. Most notably perhaps is the new, younger clientele that has embraced street food as a trendy indicator of a progressive culinary scene,” the report states.

The 20 spaces being proposed would include as many as four that are truly new, plus 16 others (four for trucks and 12 for carts) that are considered vacant as the vendor has not renewed a licence and permit for at least a year within the past five years. (Other spaces would be substituted if the vacant ones were found to no longer be viable.)

Some people suggested during consultations that 20 more spaces is too many; others suggested there should be more, according to the report.

“Based on the success of this City-wide program, Council could consider additional spaces moving forward,” it says.

New locations would have to meet criteria such as being more than 46 metres from a restaurant or other food premises and other distances away from intersections, bus stops and other vendors. They wouldn’t be allowed in a residential zone.

The report also recommends increasing the maximum width allowed for food carts from one metre to 1.2 metres on a case-by-case basis, taking sidewalk space into consideration. Wider carts “would provide more cooking and refrigeration options which would promote more diverse menus,” something seen in other cities, the report says.

Vendors on private property, meanwhile, have typically operated without moving around, but the number and types of festivals have increased over the years and become new places to sell street food, the report points out. Once licensed, the vendors may operate on any private property zoned for the use, as long as the landowner approves and other rules are followed, it says, citing a range of possibilities:

“A group of vendors working together could move from one private property to another on different evenings of the week creating the ‘pop-up’ street food pod that is very popular in many cities.

“Vendors could work with the universities and colleges to go on campus for events or to create street food events.

“Another opportunity would be to work with developers to use land that is awaiting development for a number of street food vendors, who could move from one site to another as development occurred.”

Staff say they’ll continue to work with licensees and private property owners “to promote the opportunities that exist to enhance the street food scene in Ottawa.”

Spaces for new vendors on city property would be allocated by a panel composed of five people with food experience from each of the Ottawa Hotel, Motel and Restaurant Association, the Ottawa branch of the Canadian Culinary Federation, Savour Ottawa, Just Food and the city’s board of health.

The report also proposes allowing only one “designated space” permit per street or sidewalk vendor. (People who currently have two permits would be grandfathered.) Each permit would be renewed annually as long as the person who has it has complied with requirements.

New permits would not be transferable, though current permit-holders who’ve been allowed in the past to give them to family members could still do so. Permit-holders would also have to provide proof that they’re involved in the business in order to stop people from selling their interest in a cart or truck while continuing to hold the permit, according to the report.

The committee is to discuss the recommendations next Thursday.

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/More+street+food+spaces+proposed+city+looks+boost+meal+offerings/7377689/story.html#ixzz299eqZZjn