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New Westminster seeks input on food truck pilot program

While thousands of people will feast at food trucks in the Royal City on the weekend, a lone food truck is currently allowed in New Westminster.
Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Festival
Each summer, New Westminster is home to what's considered the largest food truck festival in Canada. The fourth annual Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Festival returns to Columbia Street on Aug. 20.

While thousands of people will feast at food trucks in the Royal City on the weekend, a lone food truck is currently allowed in New Westminster.

In July, council endorsed a pilot project that would permit one food truck to be located in front of Steel and Oak Brewery at 1319 Third Ave. until Dec. 31. Various food trucks would be licensed, but only one could be at the site at any given time.

“For the city that has the largest food truck festival in Canada, we are actually quite far behind in attracting food trucks,” said Mayor Jonathan Cote.

A staff report to council stated the pilot project would allow the city to test how the proposed requirements for a citywide food truck program would work. Until now, food trucks haven’t been permitted in New Westminster because of existing business licensing and zoning regulations.

“Those food truck vendors that have been allowed to operate in the city where permitted on a short-term basis through day-to-day street occupancy and special event permits,” stated the staff report. “At this time, staff is not proposing to change the administration of the special events permit or the street occupancy permit, but to explore creating more flexibility through a food truck program.”

The City of New Westminster is seeking input on a food truck pilot project. To take the Let’s Talk Food Trucks survey, visit the city’s website at www.newwestcity.ca and follow the links to the online questionnaire.

On July 13, council approved the pilot project and directed staff to report back in six months.

Coun. Mary Trentadue said New Westminster should strive to get close to what’s being offered in other municipalities so it isn’t so far behind. She said food trucks have been shown to generate business in other places, like Vancouver, so she doesn’t want to be overly cautious about allowing food trucks in New Westminster.

“It’s been proven. We don’t need to spend too much time figuring it out,” Trentadue said. “It’s all around us.”

Coun. Chuck Puchmayr said he’d like input from business groups about the program, saying food trucks could have an impact on existing tax-paying businesses. While he’d like input from business organizations, Coun. Patrick Johnstone believes “business supports business” and creates momentum in commercial areas.

Bev Grieve, the city’s director of development services, said the city will learn from the pilot project and use that information to create a more robust food truck program.

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