© Guardian photo by Nigel Armstrong
There could be more outdoor restaurant patios and new rules for businesses that sell food out of trucks or carts in Charlottetown this summer.
City council gave first and second reading to its street vendors bylaw at its regular public monthly meeting on Monday night.
The process opens issues for debate although council referred proposed amendments to the street vendors bylaw to a committee of the whole meeting before going any further.
The proposed amendments to the bylaw would see an expanded geographical area for outdoor patios to operate in the downtown area. It would also allow council to set the number of parking spaces allocated for those patios.
A new bylaw would set definitions for food trucks, food carts and mobile canteens and designated where they can operate.
Amendments would also introduce a licensing system, outlining the cost of fees for licences and an increase in minimum liability insurance. There would be a new application form for those licences which would list areas of permitted operation. And, there would be a deadline to file those applications and renew licences.
The police committee recommended the changes.
“There is certainly a very large demand for street food now,’’ said Coun. Rob Lantz, chairman of planning and heritage.
“We’ve been approached by a lot of people who want to operate food trucks and food carts. We have regulated these somewhat in the past but we’re moving towards a model that is used in other municipalities so there will be a licensing system and designated spots for food trucks and designated fees to get those licences.’’
Lantz thinks the issue of outdoor patios could stir some debate.
Requests for patios blocking off parking spots came to council quite often in the past. Now council is considering allowing more businesses to do the same.
“The bylaw only allowed for that on Queen Street (and) south of Grafton. Council has shown some willingness to open that up a bit more in the downtown, recognizing that we are very much a tourism town and these things are great amenities for visitors.’’
The police department is proposing to limit the number of parking spaces that would be lost in case the demand is strong.
Lantz said if the demand for patios is greater than the number of parking spaces the city is prepared to lose something like a lottery system could be implemented.
As for the food trucks, they’ve been growing in popularity over the past couple of years. There’s one parked in the Canadian Tire lot, one on Capital Drive while business for the Big Orange Lunchbox seemed to soar after it located a mobile canteen on University Avenue.
“There has been a bit of a lobby for the city to wrap some regulations around that because it’s been a bit of a gray area,’’ Lantz said.
Council hasn’t approved any of these changes yet but a final decision will have to come soon with summer just around the corner.