Tonight, Kitchener City Council is expected to determine the rules for food trucks for 2014. A motion was made at last week’s standing committee meeting and deferred to tonight. Several possible amendments were also shared.

I haven’t said much about the newest proposal yet because I wanted to hear what the citizens of Kitchener thought. I have heard  from people through this blog, Twitter and the media and had some conversations over the past week.

Do you have something to say?

At this point, I’m not planning on speaking tonight.

I’m hoping there’ll be some fresh voices contributing to the decision or new information to consider. Although the city website does not say so, you can still register to be a delegate. You can even do so at the meeting. In fact, a regular practice is to see if anyone attending has something to say. If you’re interested in registering in advance, here’s how.

There’s a chance I may not even be at the meeting when the food truck decision is made. I’m organizing a new kids soccer program for the Central Frederick Neighbourhood Association and tonight is our first evening.

If I was city councillor for Ward 10…

If I represented Ward 10 on Kitchener City Council, here is what I would be seeking. In general, I’d support the motion by Councillor Berry Vrbanovic but seek some amendments.

Access more important than fees

The amount of access food trucks have to operate in the City of Kitchener is more important than the license fees. A higher fee can be justified IF it means greater access. The $2000 fee suggested by staff did not provide anywhere near enough access to justify the fee.

For the level of access included in the motion, I support the $200 fee  + $150 payment proposed by Councillor Dan Glenn-Graham and allow food trucks to purchase additional access to city run special events as desired.

Allow food trucks at more parks

The parks listed are among those that I suggested. When I did so, I only meant them as examples. When they are put on a map, you see that large chunks of Kitchener have no easy access to food trucks.

In Ward 10, I’d like to see food trucks allowed at Breithaupt Park. I’m sure there are also suitable opportunities at parks in Wards 1, 2, 7 and 8. Plus possibly others in other areas.

A daily pilot program required downtown for 2014

The access outlined in the motion being considered tonight is the best Kitchener has seen. I especially like allowing food trucks to operate daily in the Civic District and the series of Thursday night events.

Yet we can do better to open the door to food trucks.  I continue to believe that downtown Kitchener needs food trucks. I remain concerned that the current  proposal essentially keeps food trucks as a novelty downtown and that we won’t have any better idea after this year whether food trucks benefit restuarants and other businesses downtown

I’d still like to see a true pilot program for one year that would allow food trucks a limited number of set locations they can use daily in/near the downtown core. In addition to the Civic District, I’d recommend on Duke Street immediately behind city call (on the city hall side) and on Joseph Street near the entrance to Victoria Park. I’d allow for 2 or 3 trucks to operate at each location.

Then everyone involved would have a much better sense of what it means to have food trucks downtown everyday and we could determine if in 2015 access downtown could be increased, decreased or remain the same.

If this pilot program proceeds, I’d eliminate the proposed Monday lunch events in front of city hall. If it doesn’t, I’d want to move the lunch events to Tuesdays.

Deliver a report to Council in November

The motion calls on staff to report to Council in late January 2015 with proposals for next year. I think a better process is possible.

I’d like to see a report reviewing the 2014 experience made to Council in November. It should also include options for moving forward so that feedback can be obtained from stakeholders including the citizens of Kitchener. What I’m proposing is consistent with the process recommended by the American National League of Cities that I shared in February.


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