During Wednesday’s Farmer’s Market, Regina’s downtown plaza was buzzing with food trucks and people looking for a unique lunch stop. Howevers, operators said the city is serving up an unpleasant surprise.
City Permits have been hiked by $300 this year, running some owners $1680.
“I was actually almost ready to pull out of it when I saw that it had increased,” Bon Burger owner Shirley Wellman said. “I figured well, I better go through this and this year I’m really going to be watching where I go.”
“To have a hike like that without sending notice to all of the vendors in advance before the season was totally wrong.”
The city permits allow food trucks to operate on public roads, the downtown plaza, and areas like Rambler Park, Northwest Leisure Centre and the Sandra Schmirler Leisure Centre.
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Some have chosen to bite the bullet, but sayidthey’ll reconsider getting the nearly $1700 permit next year. Others said they were unaware of the jump in permit prices because they’ve simply never gotten one. They said they get enough business from private events and markets where the city permit isn’t needed.
“You’re better off to invest in doing larger events and private catering than coming down on the plaza these days,” Nacho Fiesta owner Tim Philp said. “If I go to events that are booked, I know that they’re going to be busy. Canada Day has a guaranteed turnout, Cathedral Festival has a guaranteed turnout, Folk Festival has a guaranteed turnout.”
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Businesses that already pay for a city permit have to shell out additional cash to take part in the market and other events.
For its part, the city said four food trucks have registered so far this year, compared to six in 2017.
“As part of our traffic bylaw, some of the fees went up for parking permits or street use permits, so the mobile vending permit went up accordingly,”Regina manager of urban planning Shanie Leugner said.
Still, food trucks warn rising permit prices could drive them out of areas like the downtown plaza, ultimately limiting the Queen City food scene.
“I would definitely be disappointed if there were less food trucks,” customer Christine Pinkney added. “I’d like to see them in more places as well. There’s such a great lunch crowd here, there’s clearly people who want to have food choices.”