Where the Truck can they go? Where the Truck can they go?
The recently started pilot project for food trucks in Toronto is now allowing the city streets to become friendlier for these mobile businesses. Where the Truck can they go?

The recently started pilot project for food trucks in Toronto is now allowing the city streets to become friendlier for these mobile businesses. From August 1st of 2013 to October 2013, 24 food trucks were chosen by the Ontario Food Trucks Association are allowed in several parks around the city. Prior to this pilot project, businesses like this were difficult to manage in the streets because of the strict laws on parking, and allowances of food vending in Toronto.

Cities across Canada are quite similar in regards to concerning regulations. Compared to American cities like San Francisco (where there are food truck markets at least once a week), Canadian cities are only starting to realize the benefit of trucks in the city from a business standpoint, making them an attractive endeavor. Even some restaurants, for example Caplansky’s, are taking their food to the streets.

Aside from acquiring various permits from the city, including police and fire permits as well as inspections, there are other rules that mediate the selling of food from mobile carts and trucks. Below is a comparison of the rules and regulations from three Canadian cities.


Tacofino food truck

Tacofino food truck


o A potential food truck vendor has to apply to get a permit through a lottery.  If the truck is chosen, a panel of judges will sample their food and soon thereafter they choose the top trucks for the amount of available spots in the city.

o Various time and location restrictions

o Vendors may not sell within 50 meters of any park concession or a business selling a similar food product, concept, or theme.


YYC Food Trucks

The Calgary Food Truck Association logo



o The pilot project (that just ended) allowed food trucks to operate between 7am and 3am.

o No more than 2 full service food vehicles may carry business on any street along a single block face (from corner to corner)

o Trucks have a five hour limit. They’re expected to pay for parking.

o Food trucks are not able to stop at parks, close to open restaurants, and various streets in Calgary


Food trucks in Toronto

Food Trucks lined up in the Distillery District



o Trucks cannot be located directly in front of an entrance or exit from a building, specifically 25 meters from any place of worship

o Trucks cannot be located less than 25 meters from any park or a business that sells similar products

o Where they sell ice cream or dessert-like foods, they cannot be located closer than thirty meters to the entrance to any school ground, public park, or public dock or wharf where ferries take on and discharge passengers

o They are issued a permit for a specific spot and are unable to change locations

o Now with the pilot project, vending is allowed at the following parks:
Allan Gardens, Canoe Landing, Roundhouse Park, Sherbourne Commons, and Woodbine Park.


Compared to the two other Canadian cities, the policies in Toronto don’t seem too harsh for these flourishing businesses. For both Calgary and Vancouver, there are specific times in which food trucks can operate, not to mention the street restrictions. Vancouver has policies that limit the amount of trucks rolling on the streets, which is decided by a lottery and then chosen by a panel of judges (after a taste test). Toronto and Calgary only require these businesses to get the necessary permits, but after that they are free to market themselves.

The new pilot project for Toronto and the duration of the project in Calgary allowed food trucks to be running at parks across the two cities, which is usually restricted. A pattern in all three cities is the awareness of surrounding restaurants and the respect for existent restaurant locations. Food truck owners are either fully restricted from parking within a 25+ meter distance from these restaurants, or they are required to get written permission from restaurants allowing them to sell around their establishment.

The focus and worry is on the effect food trucks will have on existing restaurants. Otherwise, the policies and general comments towards the growing popularity of these food trucks are of a supportive nature.

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Stephanie DePetrillo

Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism from Humber College in 2015.