I’ve got a solution for food truck operators who have voiced complaints

There are business owners who have a clear vision on how they want to create jobs. Yet they run into roadblocks set up by the City of Edmonton’s administration. By trying to control them, it does more harm than good. 

That’s why I am vowing to improve the food truck permit process, to make things more streamlined. 

I heard from one food truck operator recently that I reported on in 2018. Seems to me, instead of the city improving the situation, it has gone backwards. 

How I think things should be handled

Who do you think knows better on how to manage a particular industry? It’s the individuals themselves who rely on things operating smoothly.

I’ve heard similar issues with Edmonton’s festivals. They suggest they can band together as an entity and deliver a product at less cost to the taxpayer than what’s in place now. 

I see my job as your city councillor to have it so I’d gain support among my colleagues to change the rules. That way food truck owners would attest to a promise of performance. Then if they stray from what they intend on doing, they would have to deal with city staff to correct things. But the city would not intervene before then.

City council should set the standard for how things operate, then the administration and the players involved should work together to make it happen. If an outlier truck doesn’t cooperate, then bylaw at that point should step in.

Here is what is lacking

There are about 175 food vendors who require permits, and one administrator to process the requests. There is no longer an automated online system these days, brought in because of Covid-19 when the parks were temporarily closed. 

City staff play “king maker” picking winners and losers for locations. The food and beverage industry experts could likely sort that out themselves, even allowing for more trucks in each park location, properly spaced apart, and allowing the market to thrive on its own. 

A whole new set of Parkland Vending Guidelines were imposed on food truck operators three months ago in February. A truck can no longer have location rights to three parks, yet they can still access three locations on Edmonton’s roads. 

Another setback for operators that they’re still getting used to is they have to renew on a month-by-month basis instead of carrying over permits over several months.

If it were up to me, there would be a more streamlined, automatic system that covers off an extended period of time. That way operators could spend more of their day working to find ways to innovate their business, and grow the economy, instead of answering to the bureaucracy. 

Tangent’s Treats is one of those innovative companies that fits a unique customer base. They’re well known for baked goods that are specific to two sets of clients -- man’s best friend, and the dogs’ owners. In my dealings with them, I can see why they’ve been very successful in their niche market. 

Yet they can only make things work at parks that allow dogs in off-leash areas. Not every city park fits that bill -- like Hawrelak, or Emily Murphy. Having city staff handle scheduling might miss that crucial point.

The industry itself has the ability to map out a schedule and locations, instead of having the city do it for them. As an industry they can make sure “like” trucks providing the same product aren’t duplicating service at one location, while others are missing.

Things changed because of Covid. Now is an opportunity to emerge with a better plan

Here’s where it gets tricky. The system already prevents food trucks from parking at the entrance to some dog parks because they are too close to residential areas. 

Wouldn’t it be great if dog park users could grab a beverage or a snack? The way it is now the rules prevent the chance to make a sale or two on account of regulations on the books dictating what happens near residential neighbourhoods and not the dog park itself.  

Food trucks are bogged down by the City’s unnecessary red-tape which means they are not able to be as successful as they could be. Not only does this decrease demand for products from suppliers, it costs Edmontonians jobs and the City of Edmonton an opportunity at increasing economic prosperity. 

As the Councillor for Ippihkoohkanipiaohtsi, I will make sure that we are protecting businesses and adding more jobs for Edmontonians. It’s time city council starts caring more about our economic future. 


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  • Scott Johnston
    published this page in News 2021-05-31 08:59:49 -0600

Scott Johnston for Edmonton City Council