Food trucks on the menu at Toronto city council

ABOVE: Food trucks appear to be popular with Toronto residents – but the issue becomes much more complicated at City Hall. Global’s Jackson Proskow explains why. 

TORONTO – Toronto councillors will debate the merits of approving new regulations for the city’s food truck industry that would see five-hour time limits on over 580 available parking spots. But the vendors don’t like the proposed rules.

The city’s Municipal Licensing and Standards Committee gave the green light to the plan last month, which amends the city’s current street vending by-law.

If approved, the trucks could do business in any one of the hundreds ofspots for up to five hours.

The vehicles must also be at least 50-metres from any restaurant and at least 30-metres from school properties.

But restaurant and food truck owner Zane Caplansky suggests these proximity restrictions are counterproductive to the whole concept.

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“Fifty metres means no trucks in downtown Toronto. That’s what it means,” he said during an appearance on The Morning Show.“The restaurant lobby has been pushing against food trucks because they are afraid the food trucks will steal their business.”

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“I own a restaurant. I own a food truck. And I can tell you absolutely, the people who eat at food trucks are different than people who eat in restaurants.”

WATCH: Toronto food truck owner Zane Caplansky on why it’s challenging to operate an outdoor mobile establishment in the city.

What do the mayoral candidates think?

Mayoral candidate John Tory was outside city hall Wednesday morning sampling a grilled cheese sandwichfrom a food truck parked in Nathan Phillips Square. He supports changes to food truck regulations, suggesting it’s time to get on with it.

“It’s time today to take the final step of saying yes to something that they should have said yes to a number of years ago,” he said.

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MayorRob Ford said he supports the new motion, citing it as an example of the city cutting “red tape.”

“These people you know are hard workers and provide a good product so why not support them?” he asked.

Olivia Chow and Karen Stintz also supported the motion to expand the food truck industry.

BIA right to refusal

However, one stipulation would be that local Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) would have the right to refuse trucks in certain areas; a key inclusion Toronto’s Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly opposes.

“If you’re going to have a standard, a set of rules, apply them across the city without any exceptions,” Kelly told reporters at city hall last month.

“If you give people the right to opt out of the system, then you may be defeating the very purpose that is promoting the legislation in the first place.”

If passed, the new bylaw will come into effect May 15.

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