Ottawa: We Want Street Food, Please!

Ottawa... BEFORE!

by Jon Lomow |

Ottawa... BEFORE!

Several weeks ago I wrote about the state of street food in Ottawa, and how changes to provincial regulations in 2007 opened the door to expanded and more exciting programs in Ontario (you can catch-up here). Clearly, I touched a nerve — or at least discovered some latent excitement of what could be in the 6-1-3. Since the inception of The Wig some 24 weeks ago I’ve done my best to showcase some of the great food this city has to offer. Yet the article that has drawn the most enthusiasm both off- and online is about something wonderful that you — at least not yet — can’t eat in Ottawa.

The effects of a vibrant food cart culture in a city are far deeper and more complex than the flavour of the foods themselves. Not only can it bring us affordable and fresh food on the go — things like fresh banh mi sandwiches on True Loaf crunchy baguettes, fish tacos filled with fresh Rideau Pines produce, or maybe a grilled cheese sandwich with Back Forty Artisan Cheese and Art-Is-In bread — but food carts also bring people out and together in public spaces. Food carts can be positioned to help foster the use of public transportation. They can provide a cost-effective way for entrepreneurs to start a food service business, while a deliberate focus on local ingredients can help drive business to local farmers and food makers. Also, an effective program can help bring high quality, nutritious food to a larger audience, especially those that might not otherwise be able to afford it on a regular basis.

Based on the comments we’ve received I think many of you have recognized all of this, and are hoping our new ardent mayor and council might as well. But maybe they need a gentle nudge to let them know we all think great street food would be, well, great.

Street food obviously isn’t one of those serious municipal issues like garbage or transit, or probably even potholes and parking. But it’s a seemingly simple issue that can pay dividends in many ways. Select cities around the world have already shown this, and with the culinary and creative talents in this city, Ottawa could get there pretty quickly. It just needs a little shove.

With that in mind, we at The Wig have prepared a petition of sorts —more a collective statement to point out an opportunity that exists to add some new flavour to our beloved city. Give it a read and, should you agree, your name and digital ID.