Saskatoon food trucks are set to explore new territory this season.
City council approved a pilot project Monday to allow food trucks and trailers to operate next to municipal parks.”It’s great that it’s happening,” said Wes Dennis, co-owner of A Reuben, A Cuban and a Jerk.
“Food trucks bring that atmosphere of family food anyways, so what better place to do that than a park?”
Dennis added the project could boost Sunday business for vendors.
“It’s slower downtown,” he said. “It would be nice out of the park with families and people hanging out. There’s definitely opportunity for it.”
The 9-2 vote came after a lengthy debate over the impact of the project.
Councillors Bev Dubois and Hilary Gough opposed the changes, expressing concern over the impact it would have on food vendors in predominantly residential areas.
Gough said the current bylaw buffer for restaurants, which applies city-wide, was drafted with only downtown in mind.
“It’s needed in a residential context,” she said. “Twenty metres from a restaurant on a street full of restaurants feels really different than 20 metres from a vendor when they’re the only ones around.”
She also raised concerns over whether food trucks would interfere with community fundraisers in parks, taking away business from vendors at such events.
Coun. Cynthia Block then proposed an amendment, which council passed, banning food trucks from operating next to parks where community events with food vendors are happening.
As a food truck operator, Dennis said more discussion is needed on the issue.
“We’d probably be bringing people who wouldn’t be coming to their event, unless they were coming out for the food,” he said. “We could help each other out.”
The pilot project runs through 2017, after which council will determine whether the rules should be permanent.
Council also approved extended parking hours for food trucks, allowing them to operate for six hours instead of five.
Administration said the change allows for a “cool down” period for trucks. Dennis noted it would relieve some stress for operators.
“There are times where you start looking at the clock instead of dealing with the customers,” he said. “Sometimes you have to turn them away. So this is an extra hour of business.”