YYC Food Trucks

For the last two years food trucks have roamed Calgary streets serving up their fare under a City of Calgary pilot project. In September, those rules were codified in the City’s bylaw that will be in effect on October 31st. The new bylaw is largely a formalization of the rules food trucks operated under during the pilot project, but there are a few important distinctions. Most notably, the cap of 43 food trucks during the pilot project will be eliminated. The council committee studying the proposal has taken the view that lifting the cap will allow the market to decide the right number of food trucks, while hopefully raising the quality of the product.

This link provides a nice outline of the proposed bylaw with explanations for each clause.

City council and administration have wisely chosen to maintain the requirement that food trucks be parked more than 25 metres away from open brick-and-mortar restaurants. Violation of this rule, and others like providing garbage bins and not interfering with sidewalk use, will result in a $300 fine to the food truck.

They have also maintained a similar fee structure. Food trucks are required to:

• Purchase a business license
• Pay a street use fee
• Receive fire inspection, plumbing and gas inspection, ventilation and cooling inspection, and an Alberta Health
• Services Inspection

While food trucks do pay a higher fee for their business license than brick-and-mortar vendors, this in conjunction with a street use fee does not overcome the advantage they have by not having to pay municipal property tax. The council committee reviewing the proposal has asked administration to study the effect of food trucks on brick-and-mortar vendors, and we look forward to seeing the outcome.

Likewise, there is a need for better enforcement of the rules. Proper enforcement will ensure that the $300 penalties will not simply be seen by food truck operators as a cost-of-doing business. This will require periodic review of complaints, fines, and the rate of re-offending to ensure that the penalties are in fact a real disincentive.

Downtown parking also remains a concern. The supply of parking is already artificially constrained as a result of city policy, and the introduction of car2go and now food trucks is bound to exacerbate the problem. All of these new street activities bolster our industry’s call for a full and proper review of the cash-in-lieu of parking policy, an issue BOMA will be more fully addressing with the city.

In the meantime, we will be monitoring food truck activities and bylaw enforcement to ensure that the playing field with brick-and-mortar vendors is as level as possible, and that access to parking doesn’t deteriorate further.

~ Lloyd Suchet

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