One of a Thai
Mark Rendell

City Brief: Getting Ready for the Food Truck Flood

The City discusses a 50/50 food park and other options for the many mobile eateries hitting the roads this summer

Despite seemingly little interest from food truck operators in creating a semi-permanent “food park” in the 50/50 lot, there may yet be a weekly summer food truck festival in the empty City-owned lot.

The idea was floated by Coun. Adrian Bell during a discussion of new food truck regulations during Monday’s Municipal Services Committee meeting.

“As the Farmers Market shows, the exodus [of people out of downtown after 5:00] can be slowed down if there’s something to do in the downtown core,” said Bell. “If the city or some other group were to organize, say, a Thursday night event in the 50/50 parking lot, and request that food vendors participate so we have five or so options for people, it would mean more work for food vendors but hopefully more revenue, and an opportunity to see if food kiosks can help us catalyze revitalization in that area.”

Murray Jones, of Curbside Treats and Eats, was at the meeting. He said the food truck community would likely be interested in a weekly 50/50 festival even if they weren’t keen on being forced to stay in the lot all the time.

“We cannot force food trucks into a box on that lot, but as we do move forward, [we should] put some serious thought on how we can incentivize them to concentrate in that space,” said Coun. Dan Wong. He suggested cleaning up the lot, putting in seating, shade and electricity.

Not everyone, however, was keen on focusing on the lot.

“If we’re going to make areas and designate them for mobile vendors, I think we need to look at where people actually want to be, and in my opinion that might be more by Somba K’e park,” said Coun. Niels Konge.

New regulation

The main point of Monday’s discussion was to come up with new regulations for the growing number of food trucks in Yellowknife. In 2014 there were seven food truck business licenses issued; so far in 2015, 16 licenses have been issued.

A bylaw proposed on Monday sets a limit of one food truck per block along Franklin Avenue and prevents food trucks from parking directly in front of existing restaurants. The trucks will still be allowed to park across the street from restaurants, and there’s no limit on trucks per block on side streets (except on the block with Javaroma, where only one truck will be able to operate at a time.)

The new rules also allow food truck operators to purchase yearlong parking permits for $375 or continue to plug the meters, as they did before.

The discussion about the new rules and a potential evening market will continue in two weeks’ time.