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Toronto food trucks and carts could soon serve up a parking lot feast

May 6, 2012

Via http://bit.ly/JfRMMD The Toronto Star Opinion – May 06, 2012

Dedicated foodies know one of North America’s hottest gastronomic trends right now is the mobile kitchen — better known as the “food truck.” And Torontonians needn’t look far to see the immense potential of street treats served from the back of a vehicle.

To the delight of Steel City’s outdoor diners, Hamilton held a “rally” on Friday gathering 15 food trucks from across southern Ontario. Together they dished out fare that included wood-fired pizza, fish tacos, maple bacon doughnuts, exotic cupcakes, gourmet grilled cheese, pulled pork, variety poutines, beaver tails and schnitzel — all prepared and served from trucks.

It was the second such rally in that food-truck-happy town, and the biggest held in Canada. Where does Toronto rate in all this? Well, several of the trucks rallying in Hamilton appeared at a similar event here on Saturday. But when it comes to street food, Canada’s largest city hasn’t looked far beyond the humble hot dog. A well-meaning effort a few years ago to provide healthy curbside ethnic food was regulated to death. The “Toronto A La Cart” program proved an unmitigated disaster.

But Toronto city council this week is to consider a change in the right direction — cutting red tape that currently restricts the ability of food truck operators, and other licensed outdoor food vendors, from plying their trade.

A well-done motion from Councillor Adam Vaughan calls for a report on allowing food trucks and carts to rent parking lot space along sidewalks. That simple rule change would result in a huge increase in the number of potential marketing opportunities for street food in Toronto.

Right now, these vendors aren’t allowed to reach hungry diners by locating in a commercial parking lot. It seems a needless restriction. Food truck and cart operators deserve as much autonomy as possible when it comes to running their business as long as they meet health, safety and inspection requirements.

Toronto’s streetscape could use a bit of spicing up. And, judging from other cities, the public is ready for a larger helping of outdoor culinary adventure.

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