Food Trucks may roll into Tecumseh within the next few years

·4 min read
People stay physically distanced as they wait in line to order at food trucks set up in Parc des Cedres in Gatineau, Que., on May 15, 2021. (Marielle Guimond/Radio-Canada - image credit)
People stay physically distanced as they wait in line to order at food trucks set up in Parc des Cedres in Gatineau, Que., on May 15, 2021. (Marielle Guimond/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Food trucks may pop on a regular basis in Tecumseh, if staff on Tecumseh Council decide they are feasible for the town.

Andrew Dowie, Ward 1 councillor, is spearheading the research process behind food truck permits and regulations with hopes to make food trucks a regular staple.

"We know that there are individuals in the community who want to deliver a service like that and have the equipment for it," said Dowie. "Is there a spot where they could actually operate in a manner that does serve the public?"

Dowie said the success of food trucks from past festivals and the entrepreneurial aspect of mobile vendors is appealing, particularly as public health restrictions ease due to COVID-19.

"Sometimes spectators and parents, they want a snack rather than just do something, maybe a bit more run of the mill again. Maybe this hot dog or this pizza slice or something could be a nice treat that just helps to elevate the experience," said Dowie.

Chris Ensing/CBC
Chris Ensing/CBC

He and staff are seeking recommendations from experienced food truck vendors and to ensure they go about the process correctly.

'Better with numbers'

Billy Deslippe, owner of The Smashed Apple food truck, changed his business model from running a catering company to a food truck in Amherstburg in 2013.

"I realized as I matured and grew and learned that I really don't want that full-time commitment to my job. I'd rather be more committed to my family and still really grind hard when I have to, to work at my job," said Deslippe.

"The food truck is just an easier way, as a chef, to put your passion on a plate and do your own thing."

Chris Ensing/CBC
Chris Ensing/CBC

Deslippe is in favour of Tecumseh's push to allow food trucks in the region but he advises against placing individual trucks in places which may be unhealthy competition by pinning vendors against each other.

"I think that building a community behind it and kind of growing into something that everyone can use and everyone can enjoy would be the progressive way to go," said Deslippe.

He suggests designating a food truck circle with a licensed venue and a bar.

'Fighting the fight since 2013'

Establishing The Smashed Apple food truck was a bumpy road for Deslippe.

"Our food truck bylaws when I came around were really antiquated. They were written for Dickie Dee carts, essentially. They had not really experienced it," said Deslippe.

Prior to a bylaw change, food truck owners did not have to pay commercial taxes. Deslippe said he found restaurant owners were frustrated with that rule.

He took a leadership role by working with the municipality to fine tune a bylaw that protected restaurants and businesses while allowing food truck vendors to sell their products.

"By putting them on commercial properties and having a rental agreement with the owner of the property or being the owner of the property you're already paying commercial taxes and it covers that base," said Deslippe.

Chris Ensing/CBC
Chris Ensing/CBC

The city of Windsor issues licenses and permits for food trucks but according to Craig Robertson, Supervisor of Licensing & Deputy License Commissioner for the City of Windsor the classifications range from Dickie Dee ice cream carts, hot dog carts to food trucks.

Robertson said approvals to operate require evaluations which are always done on a case by case basis but over the last few years, the city has lightened up on regulations to allow food trucks vendors to operate with permits.

"So we've kind of opened up our arms a little bit more as food trucks have become more prevalent. I think back in the day it was we just had kind of one company that went from factory to factory on lunch breaks. And that's typically what we called our food trucks back then. But over the years, as that has grown, we've recognized that there was time to kind of loosen up," said Robertson.

The Tecumseh town council is taking recommendations and is hoping to be advised on how to implement food trucks into the jurisdiction in a wise way. Dowie is hoping to have the research process done soon so he and the council can move forward in 2022.

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