Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >
Jul 25, 2013 04:02 AM

Good news for food trucks in Toronto

The city is starting a pilot program on August 1, allowing food trucks in 5 city parks: Woodbine Park, Sherbourne Common, Roundhouse Park, Canoe Landing and Allan Gardens. Sounds like the city actually cut the red tape to allow this to happen -- what a miracle.

Huge kudos to Suresh Doss and the Ontario Food Trucks team for helping to make this happen.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Pilot project. Sheeze.

    Does anyone have any idea why Toronto is so dead against street food ? Licensing and inspection should quash any health concerns.

    I wonder who stands the most to lose if we have great affordable street food like almost any other place on earth...

    6 Replies
    1. re: PoppiYYZ

      I know, pilot only, but hopefully if it's successful, they will make it permanent. As for why Toronto is so dead set -- it's a bad combination of ingrained bureaucracy and a lot of pressure from bricks and mortar restaurants.

      If you think it's bad in Toronto, you should hear the venom being spewed against food trucks in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

      1. re: PoppiYYZ

        I work municipal law so this is an issue we've been tackling for a while...and while yes, a lot of it is politics; some of it actually has to do with regulation of the trucks for food sanity, safety,'s not that those are prohibiting factors- but, a city/municipality has to ensure it can regulate the trucks adequately- has the manpower, protocols in place.

        1. re: jinxie

          Well that was the problem with the previous food cart program. Stupid ridiculous amounts of bureaucracy and concerns over food safety. Every city department dipping their fingers in and creating a $90,000 cart that crippled and killed their owners.

        2. re: PoppiYYZ

          You've got 4 issues

          1) in terms of carts and stands (not trucks) the provincial food regulations are hyper conservative and there is absolutely no political will to change them, given the way that the media reacts to any food safety story there's not a politician out there who wants their name associated with a relaxing of the regulations and then someone gets sick, even though the two are probably not really related.

          2) The Medical officer of health and the rest of the health department think they are fighting the good fight against the scourge of unsafe food (and the stuff they do find sometimes would terrify anyone, there was a warehouse full of unwashed, uninspected illegally imported chinese eggs found in the GTA within the last year for example) so they are reluctant to participate in anything they see as relaxing their professional standards even when the risk is non-existent, and frankly some of the field inspectors aren't exactly intellectually equipped to make a true risk assessment, they just go through their checklist and everything's black and white

          3) There's a big swath of the brick and mortar restaurant industry who don't like the food trucks on the grounds that it's unfair competition and they continue to lobby pretty hard against them. Sure some are enlightened but they are the minority

          4) Some of the public sees them as cheap or tacky, damaging the cities image, or blocking traffic etc.

          1. re: bytepusher

            3) There's a big swath of the brick and mortar restaurant industry who don't like the food trucks on the grounds that it's unfair competition and they continue to lobby pretty hard against them. Sure some are enlightened but they are the minority

            1. re: bytepusher

              Re#4 - The look of the street food establishment can be defined.

              BTW Has anyone asked the same "Public" what they think of our cities water front developments ?

          2. May I suggest a compromise as a start ?

            License food trucks and other street food outlets as extensions of existing registered restaurants. If an "extension" provider is found in violation, the restaurant will also be held accountable. A small license fee could be used to fund any modest additional costs for inspectors and licensing.

            Let the Public decide what and where they want to eat.

            3 Replies
            1. re: PoppiYYZ

              They're doing that more or less here in Montreal. In order to own and operate a food truck, you either have to be an established restaurant or have a catering business. Frankly, I think that stinks and goes against the whole spirit of scrappy entrepeneurship of food trucks, but I'm hoping Montreal (and Toronto) loosen up and realize that we could all have something as awesome as Portland's scene one day.

              1. re: Peaches to Poutine

                I thought it might be a good idea as a start.

                Give the intrepid restaurants willing to fill the need a running start, then let others in later. Maybe easier to sell since those restaurants have something to gain.

                1. re: PoppiYYZ

                  I agree. I also think it's a great way to start, and then expand from there. Toronto is so overdue for this.

            2. i can appreciate all food scenes. trucks included. but i love my green space as much. and not sure trucks running nonstop is good for parks. let alone the large billboards they are....come to think of it, maybe a savvy vendor will rent out ad space like we do with our bathroom walls.

              i also plead a bit of ignorance on this. what is the appeal? is the food better out of a truck? cheaper? is it about convenience? personally my experiences are the food is no better or worse, its actually pricy, and i guess im willing to walk a block outside a park to a snack.

              no offence intended, but i personally need my parks to feel zen in the city since i do not have my own backyard. im all for diverse and better food. but im thinking maybe locations like financial district, nps, ry-hi, even any one of the hundreds of alleys in the city, parking lots, eatons centre, mel lastman square, etc. just not parks.

              just throwing an opinion in for all to debate. i enjoy reading all of you and look forward to responses.

              - khao san road

              6 Replies
              1. re: KhaoSanRoad

                oh i absolutely agree. this is about as ass backwards as it gets. there's literally 100 other places in the city that would be better served by food trucks. also, i'm pretty sure the food truck trend was dead in the water like, a year or more ago. i think i'd honestly rather hit myself repeatedly in the testicles with a frying pan than tell someone i had lunch at "gourmet bitches"

                1. re: disgusti

                  Gourmet Bitches. I thought you were making that up.

                  1. re: disgusti

                    Is there a food truck backlash? I Wasn't aware of it. Strikes me as odd. Personally, I'll take good food where I can get it, and I've had some pretty decent meals from food trucks in the last little while (Food Dudes and Urban Smoke spring to mind). I totally get not wanting trucks in the parks, but being anti-food truck just because they are (or were) trendy or whatever seems counterintuitive to me.

                    Also I really couldn't care less what a place decides to call themselves, but maybe that's just me. Gourmet Bitches is a silly name, but if the food is great (and I'm not saying it is, I have no idea), who cares what they're called?

                    1. re: Michael N

                      i'm not anti food trucks by any stretch, i'm just anti mediocre food being presented as something worth fighting for just because it's out of a truck. the venue doesn't matter in the slightest to me, i'll eat at canoe or at a kebab joint on rexdale or a halal cart (not in toronto, tho) or whatever the hell but branding, name, etc is like 20 percent of having a restaurant and gourmet bitches is just a stupid thing to call anything

                      1. re: disgusti

                        Not a fan of the name either. Sounds like they're just trying to be irreverent.

                        1. re: disgusti

                          Oh I totally agree that Gourmet Bitches is a stupid name. But it wouldn't stop me from trying it (and Glory Hole still holds the crown for the most ill-advised name in the city, and I tried that too). As for mediocre food being given a pass just because it's out of a truck, I'm not sure who's doing that. I've had good food from trucks and I've had bad food. Just like at actual restaurants.