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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered



  1. I support the city on their decision. Sooner or later there will be hygene problems. A street car that doesn’t have running water is not able to clean properly their belongings. Not even to mention their trash. Also, it occupies a piece of street/sidewalk that we need for the purpose of itself. There are many cheap restaurants in Montreal that pay a rent and taxes to put competition on the streets as well. I think these are great pics, and I have even been in South Korea myself and bought street car’s food, but I don’t think we need them in Montreal.

  2. Of course, the question has to be asked as well – even if there were street vendors in Montréal, where on Earth would you sit to eat your food? There are so few benches installed on the sidewalk, and aside from the Plateau and Westmount, very few *attractive* parks in which to sit…

  3. Really, William? There are plenty of benches along every major street and I can think of many, many nice parks and squares outside the Plateau and Westmount.

    Street food hygiene isn’t a problem in New York and Taipei. And it’s not like street vendors will drive established restaurants out of business — street vendors and restaurants with proper seating fill different niches.

    Honestly, if Toronto, New York, Los Angeles and hundreds of other cities around the world can do street food, why not Montreal? Street vending encourages upward economic mobility (you can make a living by selling food on the street, and it poses fewer barriers to entry than opening a proper restaurant), it encourages culinary innovation (Korean tacos in LA, for example), it builds streetlife and it gives people more choice in affordable food.

  4. Really, it’s just a repressive Drapeau-era dictat — he also banned pinball machines, for heaven’s sake — that never got revoked.

  5. Mais voyons, son honneur, l’excellentissime Jean Drapeau, avait, du haut de son extrême magnificence, décrété que les roulottes à frites, de même que les machines à journaux étaient des éléments dont l’esthétisme était épouvantablement déficiente, et devaient donc être complètement bannies des rues de SA Ville de Montréal.

  6. I loved the street food stands in Amsterdam! Hot dogs, fries, and herring sandwiches …. mmmmm ….

  7. I’m against it, we have a very good restaurant scene in Montréal and there’s a reason for that.

    Most of Canada’s chain restaurants originate from here too…

    Christopher, there might be no barriers in asia, but every street corner in cities like New York or Toronto are very expensive, some stands are valued at a few hundred thousands.

  8. Montreal dream about being on the map of star cities, thinking big: Universal Expo 2020, Ville de Design, Carnavale, New Contemporary Museum on Silo 5, etc. but a simple thing as street vendor as any great city is imposible to dream. Why?

    Why even find a snack place with a terrace on a park as in New York, London or Berlin is impossible to have one here in Montreal?

    We have great parks!!!!

    Mon dieu!

  9. BTW, when I was a kid my parents took me a time or two to the beloved “chip wagons” that Drapeau had banned from Montreal. As I recall some ended up in Ottawa.

  10. I remember reading a long time ago that Jean Drapeau actually banned street vendors to assist in Montreal’s reputation as a fine dining city. The result was 99cent pizza joints which helped fill the void.

    I don’t know, I am on the fence. I grew up near Toronto and loved getting huge street hot dogs but I actually tend to agree that it’s keeping our city cleaner… not sure Toronto, NYC and LA are good examples of cleanliness.

  11. The Plateau is too dirty already, I don’t think street vendors would help. But in some parts of Downtown and Old Montreal it’s probably not a bad idea.

  12. I usually like street vendors, but somehow I don’t miss them a lot in Montreal. Maybe they could try them out with more restrictions than in other cities to avoid hygiene problems.

    To solve the problems some of you mentioned: What about giving them a cheap rent for the spot in exchange of making sure their section of the street remains clean?

  13. I’m not against the idea of some form of street vending – for example, why not charming fruit kiosks like those in Sydney? But I stand by my statement at least as far as Downtown is concerned – numerous times I have bought something to eat from a sushi shop (or whatever) only to try and scavenge a place to squat amongst pigeon filth and beggars (I’m thinking in particular of the square across the street from the Bay and all of the public parks in the Village…)

  14. I, too, am on the fence on this one. Some of my fondest memories of my travels in Thailand and Central America were street food (I tend to remember my vacations by what I eat, I’ve discovered), but I can’t say the same for my trips to Toronto and New York, where the overall effect is… meh.

    While I’d love to see Montreal have the quality of street food that is availble elsewhere, I just don’t think it’s something that translate well into our society that just loves to regulate everything. Just look at the amount of red tape that went into Toronto’s recent street food expansion… true, Toronto is more rule-happy than we are here, but not by much compared to places where delicious and varied street food flourishes.

  15. The problem is that Montreal sucks for cheap food, be it street vendors or small inexpensive take-out joints. (well aside from the excellent burger places like Hot-Dog Mont-Royal, so it doesn’t totally suck, just lacks diversity). Street vendors would be a start.

  16. I’m quite convinced that street food is synonymous with litter. If one buys food and eats it *inside* a restaurant, it’s unlikely that they’ll go outside to throw their hot dog wrappers/plastic forks/paper bags on the ground in front of the restaurant. But what happens with a food stand that doesn’t conveniently have a trash can nearby? Some people are just going to drop it in the street. Food belongs in restaurants. I applaud Montreal’s “no street food” rule. It makes for a very elegant city.

  17. There are not that many street vendors here in LA – mostly in the beach cities like Venice and Santa Monica. Not that many downtown either.

  18. I spent a few months in SE Asia a couple years ago, and I ate almost exclusively from street vendors for two months when I was in Thailand and Malaysia. The food is generally excellent quality, and “even” in Asia regular (monthly?) inspections by city officials ensure hygenic standards are met. Word travels fast, and an unclean street vendor is soon an unemployed street vendor.

    (side note – of those several months, the only time I got sick was from a restaurant in Bangkok)

    A large part of what brings a city to life, is life on the streets (compare Montreal in winter and summer; or compare even our summer, with almost any city outside North America). Street vendors would help enormously, adding to the vibrance and sense of community that we already have here. When I returned from SE Asia that was the first thing I noticed was that North American streets are dead in comparison. It really bothered me for a few weeks. (In the month after I returned I was in San Francisco, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Montreal; there is no comparison to most SE Asian cities in terms of street life).

    About the litter issue – it would be simple to mandate that each street vendor has to make a garbage (and recycling) can available. These could be small (half-size) for ease of transport, which could be emptied daily into nearby city-provided garbage cans that already exist.

    Walkerp, I agree that street vendors would kickstart an increase in the availability of good, fast, cheap food. Honestly, most of the street vendor food I ate in SE Asia was what I would consider decent restaurant quality, and quite often it was outright incredible.

  19. One of the single biggest disappointments I have had in Montreal was the disappearance of that hot dog stand on McGill Campus!

    They allowed this guy to sell hot dogs during the summers of 98 and 99 I believe, before the entire campus was taken over by a corporate-style catering company (yuk!).

    He used to sell incredibly-large hot dogs for $2.50, man do I miss that!

    And the guy was really cool to top it all. I miss you man, wherever you are now!

  20. I miss you too SeekOdin! Just kidding, I’m not that guy…

  21. Lucila,
    Your comment about hygiene also applies to restaurants, I have found some real “DUMPY” restaurants out there. The real mobile truck vendors have hot and cold water, were are not talking about a mini-van, we’re talking 30 – 50 000$ state of the art mobile kitchens.

  22. We need a Fleet-A-Pita or Pretzel Wagon

  23. This is obviously protectionism for the restaurants of the city that pay taxes. Food trucks can provide food that is at least as hygienic as restaurants, but with little overhead and tax costs, making them too competitive. The city might go for it if they can come up with a way to impose a huge tax and profit from these sales, but it is easier to skirt the law from a truck.

  24. We need them i love street food !

  25. People get sick in restaurants because we can’t see what they cook with. Food stalls are open so hygiene has to be good or else they won’t sell a single item. If Montreal restos are so good as some have said here, then why the fear of competition from food stalls? It is not about cleanliness, hygiene or keeping up appearances. It is blatant protectionism by the city of the mega powerful resto lobby.     

  26. I go to NYC about 6 times a year, a city with TONS of food trucks! Fact is that while out shopping or site seeing during the day I want something fast to eat. Sure I don’t go into a restaurant when I’m on the go and instead I get food off a truck or cart, but if the trucks or carts weren’t there I’d grab McD’s or something unhealthy and fried fast food. Food trucks often have healthier options (lobster rolls, asian dumplings, crepes, etc). I understand that restaurants see the food trucks as a threat, but if someone wants to go out and eat a meal in a restaurant, they’re going to go into a restaurant, sit down and eat. Food truck are an alternative for on the go! For example, when I’m in NYC I might eat off a food truck if I’m in a rush during the day, but when supper time comes I go to the restaurants sit down a enjoy. I think it’s a simple concept, the restaurant customer has time to sit and eat, the food truck customer doesn’t! The only restaurant the laws in Montreal protects is the fast food chains that offer fast food on the go!

  27. I am willing to open one in Montreal, but there is a sense of old values from the drapeau era that city refuses to touch as though it is the Bible.

    Hygiene the problem then make it that the trucks pass the needed test, if we have a problem then lets fix it and not just shut it down,

    For god sakes this is the year 2011 and we can do nearly anything but when it comes to something as simple as food, god forbid we can’t solve that…because of a hygiene issue? tax issue? location location issue?litter?

    All the negative thoughts that i see are from closed minded folks.

    The city just want to rake in the taxes and thats the bottom line, they want the big taxes from the restaurants.

  28. at least montreal HAS parks…and trees…and there is more than just crackheads in them…not like Toronto

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