More food trucks and carts will be welcomed across the City of North Vancouver this upcoming summer, as council voted Monday night (May 16) to trial them in designated spots under a pilot program.
Starting next month, the Mobile Food Service Policy pilot program will allow for trucks (vehicles with kitchens on board) and carts (kiosk and wagon-types) to operate in the city in response to public demand.
Under the pilot, the application process to receive a permit to operate will be simplified and means more food options in areas of the city where options are currently limited.
Of the 16 areas, three cart approved areas will be on Lonsdale Ave, including one at Civic Plaza, and Mahon Park, Ray Perrault Park, and Victoria Park will allow trucks and carts.
The program will also allow for food trucks and carts to be run on private property for special events.
Coun. Don Bell noted the impact of food trucks on available parking in the designated areas, something which staff said they will be working to understand while collecting information about the pilot through the summer.
“Parking has always been a challenge. ... And I just hate to see this sort of expanded, in terms of food trucks around some of the parks and some of the areas,” Bell said. “I have a traditional concern about protecting those businesses that are bricks and mortar, that pay taxes, that employ people from the North Shore, that have to meet workmen compensation, have to provide washrooms, and all the things that they do and that the food trucks don't.”
Tacomio owner and executive chef Fernando Llanas told the North Shore News via email that he’s not sure what choice he has after the city’s decision. One of his restaurants sits at 13th Street and Lonsdale Ave – just a block away from Civic Plaza.
“I guess it is what it is. After having Chipotle opening across the street, having COVID for two years and being closed for eight months, I guess having a food truck on the plaza is just another day for us now,” he wrote.
Mayor Linda Buchanan said the demand for food trucks over the last 10 or 20 years, along with the evolution of The Shipyards has shown that food trucks are extremely successful, “Which in turn has made of the surrounding businesses really successful as well, when you bring people into a given area.”
The program comes as the neighbouring District of North Vancouver last month asked its staff to look into a pilot program for food trucks in its municipality. The moves by both councils comes after swells of support for the small businesses by breweries and other food service owners on the North Shore.
“One of the great things we learned about COVID is we just have to try things sometimes and pilot them and see how well they do. And sometimes we can tweak that in real time and then other times we can get that form of feedback and where we will get that formal feedback and then look to see what we can make permanent.
“I think ... the food trucks will add vibrancy. It's another piece that we can say we're doing in the city. I look forward to seeing how it rolls itself out,” Buchanan said.