Tasty treats on the streets

Credit where credit is due. One of the issues where I’ve been in sympathy with Toronto Council’s right wing is the question of opening up street food vending. Their call to simply let all street food vendors sell a wider variety of foods, in opposition to the limited, bureaucratic and clunky “Toronto a la Cart” pilot project introduced three years ago, was eminently sensible.

So it’s good to hear that they might implement this policy quickly now that they are in power. The Toronto Star reports that Cesar Palacio, chair of the Licencing and Standards Committee, wants to use the opportunity of the Toronto a la Cart pilot project three-year review to give all vendors the ability to serve a wide range of foods. Michael Thompson, chair of the economic development committee that is in charge of the pilot project, is also in favour.

Since current regulations already cover issues such as making sure street vendors only locate where there is enough space for them, and don’t locate too close to restaurants, it should be a reasonably quick win for the governing right (and for Toronto), although as is often the case there are probably some bureaucratic hurdles to get over first.

There’s still another street food issue that needs to be addressed, however. Currently, there is a moratorium on new street food vending licenses in the downtown wards (20, 27, 28), where the demand is greatest. It has been whittling away at the number of vendors through attrition since it was put in place in 2002. The moratorium needs to be lifted, so that licenses are issued in a normal way based on whether suitable locations are available.

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