Maple Ridge city hall has an appetite for food trucks

Bylaw changes will allow more mobile feasts to offer their temptations

Owen Walt

There may be more food truck visits in Maple Ridge, as council reworks bylaws to allow mobile food venders on city property and streets.

The current bylaws require all mobile food vendors to be on private property, but that won’t work well with the city’s renewed efforts to “animate” the downtown, said a staff report that calls for food trucks in Memorial Peace Park and other areas, in conjunction with street performers and other entertainment.

The report called food trucks “an increasingly popular attraction in urban centres across North America.”

But some councillors are concerned that the trucks could have a negative affect on downtown restaurants.

Coun. Craig Speirs said the trucks are a “perceived threat” by existing restaurants.

He suggested phone apps that show where food trucks can be located in Maple Ridge should also show established restaurants in the same area.

Coun. Gordy Robson echoed that downtown restaurants are “fearful” that they will lose business, and said the bylaws should restrict where the food trucks can park.

Staff said the new regulations will deal with locations, hours of business, the number of operators, with a view to having negligible impact on existing businesses.

Coun. Bob Masse suggested that if the number of business licences for food trucks are limited, they should first be offered to the city’s “bricks and mortar” restaurants.

Since 2009, there have been eight licenced mobile food vendors in the city, and at the present time there are four.

Hunger Management food truck owner Dan Beitel watched the proceedings and said he has already been through this process and concerns in Port Moody and other cities.

“I’ve been asking for this for years. So that’s my concern, is just how fast it can move along, to catch up, because I have other cities wanting my truck.”

He allows that there can be obvious conflicts, such as if a food truck is selling pizza near an established restaurant with similar offerings.

“But the majority of the food trucks, we have our own set menu style, and it’s just different,” he said. “We just can’t afford restaurants yet, that’s all.”

Staff noted that Pitt Meadows, Port Coquitlam, Langley (city and township), Coquitlam and Port Moody all have mobile food vendor bylaws, with Mission the only neighbouring community without a bylaw.

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