Ben, a person involved in farmers' markets and parks around the city told the story of a would-be "bus cafe" he has been involved with. He talked about how the City's street food policies have limited people's efforts to set up affordable businesses from which to sell street food. A woman interested in street food bought a bus which she turned into a kitchen. Originally, her idea was to make the bus into a local, travelling cafe, from which she could sell food as a street vendor. Her idea was sparked, in part, by A la Carte, Toronto's policy to bring the wealth of different ethnic foods to the streets.
The bus idea seemed an innovative, affordable alternative to the cost of buying a city cart - $ 10,000 - $ 30,000. However, in addition to the cost of the required city cart, the would-be street vendor found that the A la Carte policy also required that she operate from only one location (which nixed her plans of a travelling bus cafe). The policy also required that the food be prepared in a certified kitchen and that, as the owner of the bus, she spend 90% of the time at the cafe.
As it turns out, the food cart operators are not small business people originally from countries around the world selling their food. Instead, the carts - at Mel Lastman Square in North York and City Hall are owned by restaurant owners.
From Ben's point of view, the policy, was designed for "consumers" and for what "looks good and is trendy", without regard for other opportunities.
And the bus cafe that is barred from travelling the city to offer interesting, affordable street food is being used in the meantime to prepare foods to sell at farmers' markets.
However, issues continue to arise for the bus kitchen at farmers' markets and festivals, too...[link