New Nanaimo locations proposed for food trucks

NANAIMO – The city released a draft process for a food truck licence that proposes new fees and serving locations.

More city parks and parking spaces will open up to food truck entrepreneurs if Nanaimo officials are on board with a new licensing process.

The city has cooked up a process for food truck licences, with potential new fees and locations for entrepreneurs to serve up fare. It’s all geared to encourage culinary tourism and a more vibrant downtown, while making it easier for food vendors to apply for licences and find a place to set up, a report shows.

Until now, food entrepreneurs haven’t been able to set up trucks roadside and require a licence-use agreement to be in parks. Come next year that could change with a process that would open up select city streets to food trucks for the first time in downtown Nanaimo, the hospital district and Duke Point. Food trucks and trailers could also set up in neighbourhood parks like Harewood Centennial and May Richards Bennett Pioneer Park, or take fare to Merle Logan turf field and the Brechin Boat Ramp.

Maffeo Sutton Park, which currently allows for one truck, could see up to four vendors, but options hinge on a review of the park’s master plan.

The proposal, which is still in the approval process, would also scrap the park licence use agreement, allowing food trucks one $790 license to set up in any park, parking lot or street stall open to vending. Food trailers will pay $665 to set up in parks and parking lots.

There’s also a $150 charge to hook into city services in parks and vendors have to be 25 metres away from restaurants.

Coun. Ian Thorpe, chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission, calls the process a good first step. The city has opened designated location with a process to apply for those spots, but if there are other spots vendors think are better, it can be looked at in the future, he said.

The commission recently endorsed the proposal, which still must pass through the planning and transportation committee before it can be recommended to city council.

“The feeling generally is that we’d like the city to be more friendly to the idea of food trucks and make the licensing process a bit easier,” said Thorpe. “We’re seeing this is quite a popular trend across municipalities and cities, that food trucks are sort of a fun, different way of serving food to customers.”

Corry Hostetter, executive director of the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association, hasn’t seen the new process, but said the city seems interested in making sure the policy works for everybody. While there’s room for food trucks, it also depends on the policies, criteria and placement, she said, adding the association doesn’t want trucks parked outside established restaurants.

The proposed process goes to the planning and transportation advisory committee Oct. 20. If it’s approved by the committee and council, city staff would aim to have it ready for next March.