By Jeff Lee | Vancouver Sun
Vancouver’s street food vendors won’t be allowed to rent out their spaces any more if a proposal to ban the practice is approved by city council next month. And those who have been sub-leasing the spaces, in some cases at exorbitant prices from the original applicants, will be reviewed and may get their own spaces nearby.
In a letter to the Streetfood Vancouver Society, the city said it will prohibit renting of sites to other vendors, and will also limit the number of food vending permits a person or company can obtain.
The city has also said it won’t issue any new permits this year other than to those who have been sub-leasing spots, providing they pass a review.
The changes come after the city became aware that nearly one-third of the 110 stationary vending permits it recently issued through a lottery system were being sub-leased by the original applicants to other vendors, without the city’s knowledge.
The issue came to a head in October when some sub-lessees complained that licence-holders were charging high rental prices — as much as $10,000 annually — for a permit that costs $1,100 per year.
In his letter to vendors, Alan Rockett, the city’s street activities coordinator, said 26 licence holders who have been renting out a total of 31 spots will either have to give up their licences or go back to operating their own stands, either by themselves or with staff. Those who have been sub-leasing them will be reviewed and “if approved, they would be provided their own permits at or near their existing location.”
Rockett said the city will also limit vendors from having more than four permits, all of which have to be operated by company staff or family members.
“No rentals will be permitted. Violation will result in permits being revoked,” he said in his letter.
The problem emerged in part after Vancouver rapidly expanded its street food cart program, allowing for a rich diversity of ethnic foods. It issued 67 new stationary street food permits, in addition to 43 traditional hotdog and nut licences, and said vendors should consider offering healthier food choices. It also has licensed 28 other locations, including popcorn stands, for a total of 138 fixed-location licenses. An additional 20 licences were issued for mobile vendors such as ice cream trucks. Staff say 17 of the 138 licenses are currently vacant.